Acclaimed documentarian Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) isn’t really able (or willing) to peel back many layers of his complex subject who committed suicide in Paris in 2018.
But, In Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain the limitations don’t really detract very much from a sensitively, thoughtful account. One that includes conversations and confessions that at time could be seen as prying about the traveling, epicurean maven best known for shows like No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
Of course a canny auteur like Neville (who also made an incisive Won’t You Be My Neighbor) is able to harness much information from heaps of archival footage as he, like us, get the impression that a poetic workhorse like a Bourdain really couldn’t display what lied beneath the surface.
The narrative is propelled from the release of his breakthrough novel ‘Kitchen Confidential’ with plenty of talking heads from directors and technicians over the years on his productions t chef Eric Ripert (who found the body in his hotel room), to brother Christopher. Not to mention mother of his daughter and second wife Ottavia Busia.
The flustering and addictions of a celebrity artist immersed in his projects brought on by noticeable emotional perspective did lead to irregularities and a disappearance; anguish is evident in those coping with healing that still appears to be in it’s early stages.
There’s obvious more to an illustrious career that the makers touch on that treads the bitterness and potential exploitation for an untimely passing which reverberated far and wide. Italian actress Asia Argento (a figure in the Harvey Weinstein scandal) was Bourdain’s girlfriend before his demise and was in the paparazzi line of fire. Yet, the vicissitudes and saturnine disposition around a destructive nature still can’t railroad Roadrunner that often feels like a nostalgic, if ironic culmination of ‘Parts Unknown.’