Review: ‘Burnt’ leaves viewers with a bitter aftertaste


Jordan Schauberger

A previous version of this story did not initially identify Matthew Rhys by his first and last name and incorrectly stated Adam Jones as one of the main actors in the film. Adam Jones is a character in the film, played by actor Bradley Cooper.

Thrilling performances by Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and Daniel Bruhl and solid cinematography fall flat behind sloppy storytelling in the film “Burnt.”

Adam Jones (played by Cooper) is an American chef who lost it all to drugs and erratic behavior while working at a restaurant in Paris. “Burnt” picks up three years later with Jones overcoming his inner demons before returning to Europe with the goal of owning a restaurant.

Jones compiles a group of chefs — many of whom had a problem with him in the past — to work at the restaurant with him London. Once a part of the restaurant scene again, Jones struggles to control the problems that plagued him in the past as he searches for his third Michelin star.

Michelin stars is a rating that is awarded to restaurants by the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide gives an establishment between a one star and three star rating.

The Michelin Guide was created by tire manufacturers Andre Michelin and Edouard Michelin.  The annual guide book is considered to be the most trustworthy guide regarding restaurants in Europe.

Jones’s return sparks the animosity of several old rivals including Reece (played by Matthew Rhys)  who worked with Jones during his last stay in Europe.

The film finds the majority of its merit in the performance of its main three actors, Cooper, Miller and Bruhl. Cooper is convincing in his Gordon Ramsay-esque performance of Adam Jones, however, as the story goes on and Jones grows into a more caring of a person, his change is too sudden and does not have an explanation.

Bruhl and Miller brilliantly play characters who find it impossible to say no to the destructive Jones, even though he’s only made their lives worse.

Although the acting is great overall, none of the actors, outside of Cooper, are given much to work with. Jones is the only character with much depth and everyone else has little to no development and are merely just pieces floating around the main character.

The one near exception to this is Reece who starts as vengeful and hell bent on always being better than Jones, but, as the story goes on, shows a strong level of compassion for and willingness to help his rival battle his returning temptations. However, his presence seems to only serve as a cog in the redemption of Jones.

Wells and screenwriter Steven Knight deliver the typical “chef-vs-critic” story, but fail to add their own spice to the overused recipe.

Cinematographer Adriano Goldman, who has worked with Wells in the past on “August: Osage County,” gives shot after shot of food that makes your mouth water and captures the dynamicity of the kitchen with fluid and heated visuals.

Overall, “Burnt” is entertaining but does nothing to leave the viewer wanting more.

At one point in the film, Jones says, “I don’t want my restaurant to be a place where you come and eat; I want people to sit at that table and be sick with longing.” This is fitting for a film that reaches to be great but falls short in distinguishing itself from any other food film.