Monday, November 2, 2015

Burnt

3/4

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Matthew Rhys, Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman, Matthew Rhys

Rated R for Language Throughout

I've always wondered what it would be like to cook in a restaurant.  I can't cook to save my life, so that's not a future that's open to me.  But I do wonder.  Many films, like "Ratatouille" and "Mostly Martha" (and its American remake, "No Reservations") have peeked behind the curtain.  But if this movie is anything to go by, it's better to be waiting at your table than cooking it.  Chefs are temperamental, perfectionist monsters and woe betide anyone who doesn't cook something perfectly.

There's nothing in "Burnt" that hasn't been done before (many times in fact).  But that means little since it's done well.  This isn't a great movie, but for what it is, it's entertaining.

Adam Jones (Cooper) was a kitchen legend until his vices destroyed everything (he was addicted to pretty much everything) and he burned all of his bridges spectacularly.  To atone for his sins, he got clean and shucked one million oysters.  Now he's back and determined to get a three-star rating in the Michelin restaurant guide.  But to do that he needs to work on a few things, such as letting people inside, getting over his obsessive need for perfection and his volcanic temper.

It's not hard to see what attracted Bradley Cooper to this role.  He, like his character, is an addict (Cooper quit drinking at age 29), the role requires him to speak French (Cooper speaks it fluently in real life) and it's about food (the actor is a huge foodie).

Clearly, Cooper and the Weinstein Brothers are hoping that "Burnt" will generate Oscar buzz.  It's not going to happen.  "Burnt" has bombed at the box office (unfairly) and this is far from Cooper's best work.  The actor is effective, but lacks ferocity.  I kept wondering what Robert DeNiro would have done with the character had he been 40 years younger.  The scene stealer is Sienna Miller, his co-star from last year's "American Sniper."  She's delightful as the cook on the edge of stardom who worms her way into Adam's heart.

"Burnt" is a food movie like "Big Night" or "Eat Drink Man Woman."  But while many of the dishes look delicious, it doesn't do much for the appetite.  But maybe that's because I ate right before the movie.

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