As the Foodie Revolution has ramped up, one or two food-centric films are served up each year. 2015's entry, Burnt, turns up the heat - giving audiences an occasionally shirtless Bradley Cooper brooding around a kitchen as Adam Jones, a burnout chef who tries to rebuild his career after rehab. Does Burnt deliver on its mouth-watering premise... or it's title? Here's what you need to know:
The audience will shift in their seats, a flush on their cheeks. Their eyes will longingly drink in every moment of this film. While watching, they'll burn with desire. For the food. Chef Jones asserts that his purpose is not to feed hungry people but to deliver "culinary orgasms" - and trust me, after seeing this beautifully shot film, you'll be a lot less judgmental about the ending of American Pie.
Celebrity chefs were integral to the making of Burnt: Gordon Ramsay is an executive producer, Mario Batali and Marcus Wareing are consultants. Burnt takes viewers behind the curtain to show what food preparation techniques A-game chefs celebrate and what they eschew (for instance, poaching fish in bags is a major topic of debate and derision). Burnt also breaks down how the Michelin stars are awarded in such a revealing way that, if true, the revered restaurant guide will now surely change their process.
God is referenced in the film's opening line and, while that's the last we hear of Him, anyone who has browsed a Bible knows that God loves a comeback story. We mere mortals are no different. When we see a story about a gifted person who blows it all in a medley of addiction and bad behavior, the truth is, even after they sober up, it doesn't seem quite fair if success just falls in their lap. We want to see that they don't get a fast pass while mistreating subordinates - we want to see them work for it. Adam Jones grows; in his eventual redemption, we feel hope for our own.
While I enjoyed ingesting Burnt, it lacked a little something. Tarragon? No....
Adam Jones is a talented star on the Paris restaurant scene until he's dragged under by succumbing to various addictions: drinking, sex, drugs. He reaches rock bottom and disappears for three years to clean up. Burnt begins as a sober Jones strives to climb back to the top. It's kind of the least interesting part of his tale. It's like making a biopic about Drew Barrymore and starting the film as she becomes a mother - it's an interesting chapter in her life, but not as juicy as the earlier years. If there's one thing a film about a chef should know, it's that moviegoers love a film they can sink their teeth into.