Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman
Director: John Wells
Screening: general release
BRADLEY Cooper’s chef, Adam Jones, comes out of the Gordon Ramsay school of kitchen tantrum. At least he starts that way. Burnt is the story of his long and noisy journey towards the embrace of teamwork and a civilised demeanour.
How much you enjoy it is likely to depend on your taste for the cult of the celebrity chef. I’m resistant, so I spent much of the action wincing over the size of the seafood bill as he hurls successive plates of seared scallops and poached turbot fillets at the wall because they don’t meet his exacting standards.
Bradley Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in Burnt.
The film is directed by John Wells, best known as showrunner for ER and The West Wing and, more recently, as the director of August: Osage County.
When we first meet Adam, he’s just arrived in London, having undergone a long rehabilitation after years of abusing drugs, alcohol and best friends, few of whom have any desire to see him again. Nonetheless, he perseveres – or rather, bullies them into giving him another chance. In particular, he persuades his long-suffering friend Tony (Daniel Bruhl), who happens to own the Langham Hotel, to let him take over the hotel’s restaurant.
Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in these scenes. He also employs quite a bit of the fighting spirit that he sported in his last film, American Sniper. In that, his co-star was Sienna Miller, cast again here as a talented young chef.
There are many loving shots of colour co-ordinated helpings cunningly arranged on white plates. And they’re usually served up as part of a montage, a device that tends to be the first refuge of a director lumbered with a script lacking enough lines worth saying.
There is some banter, much of it wisely assigned to Emma Thompson as Adam’s therapist, and to Matthew Rhys, who does a great job as his former friend. But Adam himself is so pickled in his own ego that he wouldn’t know a witticism from a witlof.