Undercooked. A good plot, with a decent story and an amazing cast, Burnt starts off brilliantly and manages to hold its grip on its viewers for quite a bit of the movie, but then it just drops and melts down by the end of it like an undercooked soufflé, leaving the viewers underwhelmed and unpleasingly wanting for more.
The movie takes on a style of story that isn’t easy to pull off, and it clearly tries its best. Which unfortunately, wasn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is worth watching, it just didn’t deliver as high as I expected it to once it began. The movie starts with Adam Jones (Played by Bradley Cooper), a 2 star Michelin, washed up chef, scooping scallops in a desolated area, in a shady restaurant. The contrasting settings and the ironic value of this scene is exemplary. It perfectly sets the tone of the film, a comeback from the bottom of the pit.
The story climbs, stages a comeback and follows a somewhat common routine in such films for the first 45 minutes. A typical recruiting scene, with strong and opposing characters to the protagonist, bringing a unique blend to the ‘gang’, a specialist in each kind, each field. But a refreshing take, that this movie brings is how Adam continues to face his past head on rather than shy away from it, which is usually the theme that is used. A determined Adam, along with his band of not misfits, start working towards a third Michelin star.
The movie brilliantly sets up to highlight Adam’s ambiguous, dark past, but fails to deliver on it. Multiple occasions were presented where the director or the writer could’ve capitalized and given the movie an extra layer, thus giving it more depth. The movie’s premise was solely based on Adam’s dark past and his attempt to reinvent himself, but the audience is barely let into his past, therefore cannot relate to the sheer desperation Adam consequently shows ahead in the film. The movie looked to deliver a cocktail of emotions ranging from anger, frustration, vulnerability, sorrow, desolation but half heartedly ended up injecting those into its viewers, unlike a similar yet different movie called ‘Chef’.
The aggression in the kitchen, though, was absolutely stunning. The director has done a commendable job in helping the actors portray what it must be like in the back rooms of a fine dinning restaurant. A brilliant contrast again is showed, by constant rotating shots of two rooms. One room full of quaintness, discipline and decorum is displayed over the screen, with tens of people of harmoniously consuming the ‘culinary orgasms’ being served to them and on the other hand, a room of not more than 12 people, in absolute chaos, loud, violent, aggressive, and adrenaline driven, where the ‘orgasms’ were fingered upon to achieve them. Both were beautiful, in their own way.
The story could’ve been written and executed better. It had tremendous potential, but failed to live up to it. I have developed a new taste for culinary backed stories, and I will say this, that ‘Burnt’ has aided that development. Even with its flaws in its stories and its shortcomings, it still managed to check quite a few boxes. The movie did leave me a little disappointed as I feel it finished on a very pre-mature note and the story wasn’t fleshed out well. The pacing of the story was quite uneven, while the fast bits were gripping and enjoyable, the slow ones dragged on longer in the viewer’s mind than they actually did in the movie. A lot of things worked against the movie, but it was the all-round decent performance by the cast that holds this flick together. Not the best performance by Cooper, but not his worst either (looking at you ‘Hangover 2’), though the scintillating Bradley Cooper, who swooned us in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was certainly missing in action. He did manage to capture a chef’s demeanor quite accurately, with a stiff, up-right posture and steady hands. But on the other hand, the typical arrogance we see in the daily cooking competition shows with Gordon Ramsey, was absolutely over the top, and just stopped being believable after a point.
I would ask you to watch this movie if you have the time for it, but don’t go out of your way to. Burnt is just one of those movies that is alright for a lazy evening viewing but not for an intense movie session.
My rating for Burnt: 6.7/10
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