Rated: R language throughout. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 23, 2015 Released by: The Weinstein Company
If you can stand Bradley Cooper's insensitive, self-destructive Adam Jones in search of his third star as a Michelin Guide chef, a savory, creative cinematic cuisine may be just engaging enough. Especially when it's in the kitchen perhaps for those not aware of what it entails including its hardware.
But, (a long in the making) Burnt isn't nearly as riveting as the four-time Academy Award nominee's work in American Sniper, though not having the awful aftertaste of the forgettable Aloha. Many of Jones's characteristics come across in John Wells's formulaic exercise with a sparkling cast as in his August: Osage County and The Company Men. This perfectionist is adventurous and unethically demanding, as well as pompous, unforgiving and appealingly adroit in his profession where bad habits in France led him to tackle the London restaurant scene with his usual aplomb. Not after a penitent act of shucking a million oysters.
With all of his warts, Adam's charisma includes French fluency and writer Steven Knight (Locke, Dirty Pretty Things) espouses the dissonance in and out of the restaurant. The promise of many mouth-watering dishes helps counter the triteness of regaining reputation and redemption with debts and
pundits on hand to make or break careers. A metaphorical, even idiomatic piece unfolds touching on denial, boastfulness and the communal chain of progress.
Though Jones is rather unfeeling to many of the other characters including Sienna Miller's gorgeous single mother and sauce-specialty chef Helene, a complexity is felt throughout a spry, melting pot of an ensemble rather than its narrative. Matthew Rhys is a rival chef with anger and competitive streak not unlike our regurgitating, impassioned protagonist. Emma Thompson makes for an unusual, sentient psychologist who'd be dissed by the 'Fashion Police' while Alicia Vikander (of the intriguing sci-fi tale Ex Machina) and Uma Thurman are past amours, the latter a food critic and the former whose flame is still ready to be lit.
On the masculine end there's a sous chef (Omar Sy) maligned awhile back by Adam; unpredictable, unstable types who either could be in Amadeus (Richard Rankin) or, in this case, jail
(Riccardo Scamarcio). How the storyline wrings out melodrama can seem intrinsic at times, but the relationship between the necessary Helene (whose young daughter gets a sweet pink care complements of Adam) doesn't have the presence or glamor the disparate characters may exude. Ultimately, Cooper may be Burnt through his ambitions in tackling a role where the sensory impulses collide with the disregard and manipulation in a textured but not really that flavorful cinematic experience.