Running time 1hr 41min
WHAT comes to mind when you think of top chefs? The reported meltdowns of the charismatic yet volatile Marco Pierre White perhaps, and the vitriolic outbursts of Gordon Ramsay, no doubt. A fiery temperament is the definition of ‘chef’ for many of us – we’ve seen enough series of Kitchen Nightmares to know this. And so Burnt, a film about a stormy yet brilliant chef, unearths no
revelations. Worse, it’s cliché-packed and pointless. Relevant some time around 1992, or whenever it was that the celebrity chef first became a big thing (and the media started declaring chefs the new rock stars), in 2015, Burnt feels very dated. Crumbs, even Gordon Ramsay’s barely even a thing any more (which may explain his involvement as executive producer on the film).
Bradley Cooper is one-time blue-eyed American boy Adam Jones, who began to make a name for himself in the kitchens of Paris before turning to booze and drugs and throwing it all away. We meet him in London where he’s landed to make a fresh start, act all cleaned up and determined to win a third Michelin star by taking on head chef duties at a restaurant at the Langham Hotel.
Assembling a staff, he pulls together his old team with a couple of newbies – notably talented London-based chef and single mum Helene (Sienna Miller), who’s more than a match for his temper and who sees his softer side. With Adam sworn off women and Helene seemingly unprepared to sit back and take his bullying ways, something romantic looks bound to happen. This is Hollywood, after all – albeit set in London.
A supremely talented cast including Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl and Matthew Rhys promises greatness but this is never delivered, despite a screenplay by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things). Burnt is overcooked, and lacks subtlety and depth. In comparison with other more inventive films about cheffing, such as Ratatouille, Julie & Julia and Chef, it’s soufflé-light and will leave you cold.