Burnt – The Characters are Well Done Even If the Story is a Bit Overcooked

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food-warsComing off of watching a show like Shokugeki No Soma (Food Wars), I was obviously pretty excited about the prospect of a well-made film with food being the center of attention. Being fat and loving food had a lot to do with this also. I was surprised, however, when I noticed that it was getting slaughtered by other review sites. Like, I am fairly certain that it has what? a 27% right now on RottenTomatoes with the general consensus being that “Burnt offers a few spoonfuls of compelling culinary drama, but they’re lost in a watery goulash dominated by an unsavory main character and overdone clichés.”

But I had resolved to see the movie long before seeing these reviews– so I went! And, quite honestly, I do not quite see why it has such low ratings. Granted, the film is not without its flaws– but it certainly deserves a higher rating than that. Bradley Cooper does an amazing job channeling the stress and skill of the culinary world and much of the extra-cast are great compliments to Cooper in the movie.

Synopsis

Provided by Google:

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was once a top chef in Paris until drugs and alcohol led to a meltdown that put his career on hold. After moving from New Orleans to London, Adam gets a shot at redemption when his former maitre d’ (Daniel Brühl) reluctantly hires him as the head chef of his fine-dining rrestaurant. Demanding perfection from his newly formed staff (Sienna Miller, Omar Sy), the acerbic and temperamental Jones gets a second chance to fulfill his dream of earning a third Michelin star.

Thoughts

Burnt-Movie-Images-0523What the above synopsis leaves out, however, is the fact that Adam Jones is… well… kind of a dick. Not only did he ruin his own career in Paris, but also the career of old friend Michel. When he found out that Michel has quit the restaurant that they both were trained at to open his own, Adam proceeded to release rats in his friends new restaurant and call the health department, which led to the shutdown of Michel’s new place as well as the end to his culinary career in Paris. But upon running into him in America, he brings him in as a chef for his new restaurant–and then proceeds to treat him, along with the rest of his staff, like shit whenever they show the slightest hint of failure.

burnt-posterAnd therein lies the biggest oddity of this film… they spend so much time showing Adam Jones being a jerk in the kitchen, yelling at everyone and demanding perfection, that the actual artistry of the food is often overlooked in this film. Jones is supposed to be a culinary genius, even his rival in the film admits that he is the best, and that his mere presence is necessary in the world because it make everyone around him do better and strives to be greater. But we never really see him be amazing in the kitchen– it is just sort of implied. We have to assume it and fill in the gaps because, instead of seeing him be the best chef ever, we only get to see him freak out every moment he can. This is the biggest flaw in the movie and why I think, at least in part, it did so poorly in terms of ratings. If you’re a foodie, you wont like this movie simply because it is less about the food and more about Adam Jones’ flaws and his attempt to overcome himself.

bradley-cooper-b-600x450But Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones in such a convincing way that you cannot help but root for the guy who would otherwise be the villain in the story. At the end of the day, Jones is a redeemable sort of asshole. He is reasonable and accessible, less like Miranda Preistly from The Devil Wears Prada and more like  Matt Damon from Goodwill Hunting, we can understand their Jones’s struggle even if we cannot quite grasp his genius. Honestly, we should want to see Adam Jones fail– he deserves it in the movie, but you cannot help but want him to get his coveted third Michelin star.

 

TOKYO - NOVEMBER 18: The Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009 is on display during the "Michelin Guide 2009" press call at Omotesando Hills on November 18, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. The guide will be on sale on November 21 in Japan. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)Speaking of the Michelin star…. I had to look this up after watching the movie as I had not heard of it and the movie doesn’t really do a great job defining it… other than a really good thing to have in the food industry. According to FoodTravel.com, the Michelin star being discussed in the movie is actually from the Michelin tire company who has a long history of reviewing restaurants, even launching its first guidebook to encourage road tripping in France. In 1926, Michelin started sending out anonymous restaurant reviewers to try out restaurants. And not they have a full-time staff of reviewers that are highly skilled and trained. Each time a reviewer goes to a restaurant, they write a thorough memorandum about their experience and then all of the reviewers come together to discuss and decide on which restaurants will be awarded the stars. Food Travel states that:

  • One star:  A good place to stop on your journey, indicating a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.
  • Two stars: A restaurant worth a detour, indicating excellent cuisine and skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality
  • Three stars: A restaurant worth a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.

Wipptaler BerglammAt first glance, this stars seems somewhat easy to achieve right? Wrong… the truly value of the stars is in their rarity. Most restaurants never receive any star let alone one. In Michelin’s Guide to Chicago is 2014 out of 500 restaurants only one restaurant received three stars, four restaurants received two and only  20 received a single star. That is about 5% of the restaurants receiving a star.

Adam Jones has received two Michelin stars, I am assuming either two for one restaurant or one at two restaurants. He, in the film, is now seeking his third which, apparently in the food-world, gives you immortality and clout. And, for the most part, his journey for his coveted third star is a compelling one. Not only does everyone seem against him in this film, as he has wronged so many people in the past, he has to battle his own inherent flaws to boot.

UNTITLED JOHN WELLS PROJECTThe other unfortunate thing about this film is the love story found within. Jones works closely Helene (Sienna Miller), a chef he hires on and is very talented, and instead of the film allowing them to have a mentor-mentee relationship or a work partnership, it forces a needless love story on us. This is an issue I find with many movies lately… if a woman and a man are leading a film together, they must fall in love…why? It is somewhat distracting in my opinion and is a subplot that has no place in the film… maybe we could have seen some actual cooking. Like seriously, how does a movie like Mad Max become the film that breaks that ground? Just saying…

Burnt-2015-movie-GUNNS-RANGEBut again, this movie is no masterpiece. It is funny, compelling, dramatic and well-acted throughout, but it has its flaws (like the few listed above). But I don’t think that it deserves the negativity it is getting… Personally I think part of the reason it is rated so poorly is because it stars Bradley Cooper… seriously. If a no-name actor filled Cooper’s shoes in this film and did just as good of a job I bet this movie would have done better critically. But because Cooper is attached– we expect this amazing film and get pissed when we see a moderately solid movie instead…

Rating

Watch_Bradley_Cooper_Plays_With_Fire_In_New_Trailer_For_Burnt_-1501412Plot

Sometimes I wish I could just do these rating in one word… like “Decent” but then I feel like I am cheating the readers… But that is what the plot is… decent… It is an interesting take on the food industry and I wish we had more films like it. It has its flaws, and includes needless subplots like a love story and pointless gang-bangers shaking Jones down for money, but the main plot had a lot going for it if everything else didn’t seem so distracting. (10/20)

tdy_tren_burnt_150810.today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopCharacters

Adam Jones is a character designed for you to both love and hate him. He has this genius that draws you in but pairs it with personality traits, like being a dick, that drive you bonkers. In that way, the movie keeps you interested. Add that to the fact that  many of the side-characters are actually pretty interesting (Like Michel) and you have a wonderful set of characters that fill you in on the drama of high-end cooking. They are intense and angry but passionate as well. (18/20)

burnt04Acting

Some might say that Cooper overacting in a few moments of this film, but to me he seems to be channelling his inner Gordon Ramsey who gets over-angry. He feels over the top because he IS over the top. I think he did an awesome job in the movie. However, I think Daniel Bruhl steals the acting-light in this film as he plays Cooper’s former friend and overly reluctant boss. He does a great job of carrying Cooper’s crazy in the movie. (20/20)

 

tdy_tren_burnt_150810.today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopStorytelling

I love the opening of the story. Jones made many mistakes in Paris and decided to partake in his own self-made penance. He takes a job at a crappy restaurant in New Orleans and spends 3 years shucking 1 million oysters. After completing his penance he quits the job without so much as a word to his boss and resolves to gain back his former status as a top chef by achieving his first Michelin star. However, the movie is full of way too many subplots that bring literally nothing to the story and have little-to-no pay off at the end of the story. That, along with the annoying lack of cooking in a FOOD MOVIE sort of kills the story. (10/30)

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The trailer was compelling, intense and interesting and the only thing I hated about it was the background noise of chefs beating eggs (or that’s how I heard it…) (5/10)

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