Director: John Wells
Writers: Steven Knight, Michael Kalesniko
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy, Sam Keeley, Henry Goodman, Matthew Rhys, Stephen Campbell Moore, Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman, Lexie Benbow-Hart, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sarah Greene
Synopsis: Adam Jones is a chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout
Stevennix2001's Rating and Review Summary if you want to skip the actual review
6 / 10
- Acting was decent
- Bradley Cooper was great in his role as the top dog chef trying to seek redemption, by earning another star.
- Relationships between the characters were fairly fleshed out.
- The direction was decent.
- Pacing was good
- In spite of all it's good qualities, the film features too much exposition, which kills off most of the story's emotional punch.
- We're shown characters that are either barely developed, or they're briefly mentioned as being a big deal, but they end up never playing a huge role in the actual film.
- Because we're never shown how Adam rises to fame during the early part of his career, and his fall from grace, we're never given the full emotional impact of his redemption arc.
A film that has all the right ingredients, but it's under cooked....
Since I started to review movies, I never realized how much drama goes into kitchens at various restaurants. First it was "Julie & Julia" that I reviewed a while back, and then it was "Hundred Foot Journey" and "Chef." Now, I find myself reviewing another drama about a chef recently in "Burnt." Unlike the other films that I previously mentioned, this one features a chef, by the name of Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), that was once considered one of the best, but he's trying to find redemption, after he royally screwed up.
The film never goes into too much detail about what Adam went through that would've caused him to fall from grace, but it's heavily implied that he was involved in a lot of illegal drugs, while owing a lot of money to some dangerous people. Who these people are is never explained, nor do we ever hear about what revelation made him want to redeem himself to get another star as a chef. No, this is more of an aftermath to another story that we'll never see, so there's a bit of a disconnect with the character and the audience. Because we never see this chef's rise to fame and inevitable fall from grace, we never feel the full of effect of his redemption story.
Instead, we're simply told about all this, through a lot of exposition. Hell, we're even told about an ex girlfriend of his that everyone thinks is his daughter, but she really isn't. But like everything else in this film, we're never shown the full nature of their relationship. Nope, we're just given more exposition, and that's it.
Hell, we even have characters that are built up to be important, at one point in the story, but they actually end up playing a very minuscule part if anything. (i.e. the shady drug dealers that Adam owes money to).
And this is part of the problem. Because the film has this inept concept of "tell don't show" it almost feels like we're being told most of a story through dialogue instead of actually seeing it happen. It's almost like hearing all the intricate plot details to a movie, from a friend of yours, versus seeing it directly yourself. Granted, either way you'll find out what happens during the movie, but it's a lot more satisfying experiencing the story for yourself.
In a lot of ways, "Burnt" robs it's audience of that satisfaction by not showing us what happened to Adam prior to him seeking redemption. Sure, it sucks to see someone fall on hard times, and I don't think most people would want anyone to fail at life...unless you're just a giant a**hole or something. However, if the film would've shown us these things instead of telling us about them, then it would've made it that much easier to root for Adam. It would've made us feel more involved into his personal journey, but nope. We're simply told this instead through exposition, which makes the film feel a bit dry. Apart from that though, I think everything else with this film works fine.
The acting for the most part was fairly decent. I especially loved the command performance that Bradley Cooper gave in this film, as this might be one of his best ones yet. Sadly, it's wasted in this underwhelming movie, but his talents shine regardless. I especially loved how Bradley Cooper was able to convey a likable arrogant Primadonna of a chef, who can often go from self centered prick to a surprisingly nice guy at the drop of a hat. With a role like this, you'd think that most actors would struggle handling such a complex character, but Bradley seems to pull it off rather well, as he manages to add just the right amount of vulnerability and suave to the role.
And while I can't say any of the performances were Oscar worthy, I will say that the chemistry between the actors seemed fairly spot on, and I loved the pacing of this movie, as the overall direction of the film was handled well.
Overall, I wouldn't say "Burnt" was a bad film per say, as it certainly had a lot of the right ingredients that could've worked if the script was tweaked a bit. But as I mentioned earlier, it feels too much like a conclusion to a previous story that we're never allowed to see, which makes the journey of watching Adam rise and fail all the less gratifying because it robs the audience of going through the motions with him.
In any of the "Rocky" movies for instance, part of the reason why we always root for his character is because we're always shown the heartache and turmoil his character goes through. We're shown the hard work he has to put in, so he can win the fight. We're there with him when he takes a savage beating in the ring. And even though it can be difficult to watch sometimes seeing Rocky Balboa struggle in life and/or the ring, it only makes his victories all the more sweeter because we experienced that emotional journey with him, from the very beginning.
Whereas in "Burnt", we're never allowed to see what caused Adam to fall from grace, or why he became a chef to begin with. And it's because we're never allowed to go on this journey with him, and only experience the ending to his story, it only makes his victories all the less satisfying to digest.
"Burnt" may not be the worst movie of this year, but it's definitely one of the more disappointing ones out there. Honestly, I wouldn't go out of my way to see this movie, but if any of my readers want to check it out, then I'd highly recommend waiting until it comes out on TV like TBS or something, as "Burnt" isn't worth renting; let alone seeing in a theater.
© 2015 Steven Daniels