We’ve all been there; it’s Saturday night, you’re tired, you’ve just devoured another bag of Doritos roulette and you’ve thrown on your major streaming service to avoid the soul wrenching dread that follows any program presented by Nick “I’m now a singer” Knowles.
Yes, you’ve Netflixed and chilled, or Amazoned and Brazilianed… wait.
The endless scrolling, the pondering if that independent Adam Sandler film may actually be any good or dare you watch the millennial offending F.R.I.E.N.D.S. on binge? You will wake up Sunday mid afternoon and try to erase the ever offending Chandler Bing from your memory, or better yet, you could choose to not be offended, just pointing that one out fellow millennials.
Yes, we’ve been there.
Let me introduce you to the 2015 film, BURNT. It stars Bradley Cooper, a man who we all feel would be the perfect dinner guest at one of those imaginary “dead or alive scenarios”; Sienna Miller, a woman who has managed to piece together a Hollywood career by being remarkably unmemorable in other hits yet, so easy to admire for the subtle acting nuances and Daniel Bruhl, the baddy from one of the Captain America films… Oh, and he also does the best Nikki Lauda impression in RUSH.
At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be a mega hit. IMDB score it 6.6 which is less than both Chef (2014) and Big Night (1996) who each earned a 7.3. Rotten Tomatoes is no better, a meagre 24% when compared to 93% and 96% for the other two titles. The reviews, well, they will not help matters, the Independent gave it just 2 stars and The Guardian had the most delectable put down, “it comes and goes like so much fast food, leaving you hungry for a late-night DVD snack of Jon Favreau’s more palatable Chef.”
And yet they are wrong.
Because the storyline is nothing like the other two, where redemption and striving for perfection permeate each scene like it was some 90s tip of the cap to sun dried tomatoes. Let Mark Kermode tell you what the plot is without giving anything away, “Manic Bradley Cooper is Adam Jones, a former addict who’s fled Paris for London (via a million shucked oysters), where he plans to rebuild his life and reputation. Rounding up a crew old and new (Omar Sy’s formerly scorned Michel, Sienna Miller’s convincingly feisty single mum Helene), Adam raises flambeed hell in the kitchen while waiting for the Michelin-starred hammer to fall.”
Hodgepodge it is, several storylines mixed into one as well, but what the critics are missing is the vital point that food lovers, the ones that spend hours watching Chef’s Table and every other food documentary get – no chefs life is simple. No one who strives for perfection is.
It doesn’t have the majesty of the Timballo as Big Night, or THAT spaghetti scene from Chef but what it does have is a certain chutzpah that only someone who has worked in a kitchen could admire; or certainly someone who has watched enough cooking shows could understand. The twatty, angry chef is a new beast when it comes to fine dining and if anything, Cooper could afford to throw a few more tantrums but thankfully the script has dialled him back from potentially being the biggest arse wipe since the words “nightmares” and “hell” appeared on our TV screens with a certain someone else.
Does the food look amazing? You don’t really see too much of it. Are you inspired to make any of the dishes? Not really, but there is a cookbook if you were at all interested.
What you’re getting is a fictionalised, food lovers idea of what life is like in a Michelin kitchen, smattered with some strong acting and easy on the brain storyline. BURNT is not tempting me to start my own kitchen, unlike Chef which had me googling “Food Truck” for weeks, and it doesn’t make me wonder if mice can talk, like Ratatouille. Then again, that was probably the brownie I had in an Amsterdam theatre before watching it.
Is BURNT going to blow your socks off? No, but you will think “how did I not see this first time around?” Do we have a potential cult film? Possibly.