Burnt: EW review

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bradley Cooper’s haute-cuisine drama ‘Burnt’ is toast.

Bradley Cooper revealed how he loved cooking up a storm in his new film because he got to return to his roots at the European premiere of Burnt in Leicester Square. But it seems Hollywood heartthrob’s culinary skills are actually pretty good and have been noticed by one of the UK’s most talented chefs – Marcus Wareing. “Bradley is a great cook. Often he is the one making these comparisons, because otherwise we might forget about the transcendent historical importance of a guy whose world is a plate of scallops.

His Adam Jones is apparently a gifted chef, but with his arrogant persona and penchant for loud outbursts, it hardly seems worth finding out, even despite those baby blues. He showed it off as far as back as 2005, when he played a bad-boy top chef based on Anthony Bourdain in a short-lived Fox comedy titled Kitchen Confidential. It would be hard to name a class of men characterized by a higher ratio of bombast to achievement than chefs: Gentlemen, you’re not Navy SEALs, you make mayonnaise. Jones is so unlikeable that spending 100 minutes with him on screen is as unpleasant as languishing over a bad meal — you just want to kind of walk away and find something better. “Burnt” is further hampered by narrative loose ends, clunky, explanatory dialogue, and a love interest (Siena Miller) who behaves as no real woman would. Bradley seems to have embraced this tough role – shedding blood and sweat to play a troubled executive chef who decides to leave Paris and make a name for himself in London.

Written by Steven Knight (“Pawn Sacrifice”) and directed by John Wells (“August: Osage County”), “Burnt” follows Jones’ efforts to restore his cooking career after a bout of bad behavior and return to Michelin Star status. So Bradley Cooper, who plays Jones, is essentially the opposite of his “American Sniper” character, a man who speaks loudly and carries a spatula. The job is a penance, Cooper’s Jones explains in voiceover: He was once a promising young chef with the opportunity to run his mentor’s restaurant, only to squander his future with drugs, infidelity and an inflated sense of importance.

A self-destructive junkie with a short temper, he got blasted out of his former job at a Paris eatery and did penance by shucking a million oysters at a New Orleans dive bar. It was a wonderful experience we will never forget and it bonded us.” The American Sniper star, 40, and his co-stars including Sienna, Daniel Bruhl and Omar Sy were given culinary advice from Gordon and Marcus, the latter of whom was a consultant on the movie. He runs into Michel (Omar Sy), who awkwardly explains to Jones exactly how he wronged him when they worked together years ago in Paris (don’t they both know this already?).

And look, there’s Sienna Miller on his arm again: This time she’s his pathetic assistant hash slinger, who after being chastised and manhandled by him just can’t help falling in love with this arrogant blowhard. “Burnt” is the tale of how Jones, after quitting a fancy Paris restaurant then kicking booze and drugs in New Orleans, rebounds in London where the restaurant of a friend (Daniel Brühl) needs fresh ideas. Jones’ goal is to earn himself a third Michelin star at the restaurant, but if the guy was a semisuicidal heroin addict as a 2-star chef, is a third star really going to change anything? The film doesn’t even tell us much of anything about how top kitchens work, except that there’s lots of yelling, and bitchy quips like, “Your look is very Paris-in-2007.” Jones seems baffled by sous vide cooking — I’ve heard of that, and I dine at Subway. “Burnt” is directed by “ER” producer John Wells as though he was working from a “Storytelling for Idiots” manual: Characters walk onto the set to announce who they are and what their history with Jones is.

Uma Thurman, for instance, is the snooty Brit food critic (if it’s possible to be snooty when you work for the freebie the Evening Standard) who seems to promise bedevilment but instead just disappears, as does Alicia Vikander, who pops in and virtually says, “Hi, Adam, remember me, the daughter of your old mentor and fellow drug addict?” About that manual: It must have been missing Chapter 1, the bit where it warns that you must make the audience care about the hero and his quest. German actor Daniel – who has starred in Ron Howard’s Rush and the Captain America films – said: “Bradley didn’t have a double in any scene. The move seems even more egregious when it becomes clear, through sessions with an unethical therapist (Emma Thompson), that Jones took advantage of Tony’s romantic feelings for him. Introduced as a talented up-and-coming chef and devoted single mother who works at a competing restaurant, Helene can tell Jones is a jerk as soon as she meets him, yet she’s lured to his kitchen by a much bigger salary.

But despite Jones yelling at her, belittling her skills, grabbing her by her (alluringly loose) tank top and ditching her for another woman at a party he invited her to, Helene suddenly forgets her parental responsibilities and falls for him. The precision and beauty of a five-star meal is an art whose creation clearly has its own rhythm and drama. “Burnt,” a Weinstein Company release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language. That’s really Cooper doing the slicing and dicing, and his colorful plates are true works of art. (Mario Batali served as a consultant.) Aside from those mouthwatering entrées, though, not much else is cooking here.

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