Today’s celebrity chefs come off like rock stars. They make outrageous demands. They throw temper tantrums. They demand ridiculous salaries. All these clichés and more can be found in Burnt, the new drama starring Bradley Cooper as Adam Jones, a top chef in Paris until he alienates everyone in the kitchen and turns to drugs and alcohol to cope with his problems. The film opens areawide today.
At the film’s start, Adam has moved from Paris to New Orleans to do penance (and escape a debt to his drug dealer). He shucks one million oysters (he counts them in a ragged notebook he carries) and steers clear of the dope and booze. Once he’s completed drying out, he heads to London where he tries to convince Jamie (Daniel Brühl), his former maitre d', that he can make his restaurant into the best in the city. And he wants to get that elusive third star from Michelin, too. Jamie consents but only if Adam agrees to weekly therapy sessions and drug tests.
Once Adam starts cooking, tension in the kitchen mounts. Turns out, the guy has a real temper (shocker!).
In typical celebrity chef fashion, Adam berates the staff, including Helene (Sienna Miller), the woman he lured from another establishment by offering to triple her salary. A negative review that suggest he's lost touch with the current culinary scene sends him into a tailspin, and he destroys the kitchen one night when everything isn’t prepared to perfection. All of this, of course, doesn’t really inspire empathy. Instead, director John Wells makes Adam into such a prick, that it becomes hard to warm up to him once he predictably softens up and realizes that he needs to treat people with at least some sense of decency.
While the film boasts arthouse sensibilities — food preparation has never looked so fabulous — it’s ultimately riddled with too many clichés, both food-related and otherwise.