Audiences coming in hungry for a good story might leave “Burnt” unfulfilled.
It’s not that it fails without a lot of honest effort from the cast, particularly Bradley Cooper. Cooper as Adam Jones is as perfect as the culinary dishes he makes. Jones manages his kitchen with a very high standard and if he doesn’t like it he will make sure you know with curses, throwing dinner plates and insults. His actions would make chef Gordon Ramsay cower in fear. But then there are quiet moments, where Jones thinks about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it.
But the problem is that these moments don’t happen enough. There’s not much to make you feel connected to Jones as a character. Most of his scenes take place in the kitchen, and there’s not a lot he does there that make you like him.
It’s more his circumstances that make you want Jones to win. Jones was trained by the best, with the best in Paris. But then he got into bad things, bad people and made bad choices, or so we’re told. Now he’s back with some of his old crew, some new crew and he’s out to prove that’s he is worthy of a second chance. But it’s uncertain if he will revert back to his old ways or if he’ll change and be able to trust the people he’s hired to help him.
Unfortunately the character development runs a little slow since we’re never able to really get to know Jones. And we see very few of his other kitchen mates outside of the kitchen other than Helene (Sienna Miller). There’s not a character that we really get to know to anchor us to the story.
And much of the story is long montages of cooking, serving, eating and taste-testing food. In between those moments we see Jones yelling or struggling in the kitchen in some way, refusing to back down or ask for help.
But what we do see in those lengthy cooking clips is cinematography that shows off the beauty of food worthy of Instagram. The camera cuts in close to show cutting vegetables, gas fires, seared meats, bubbling sauces and arranging the plates to be served. Jones says he wants people not to just eat his food but “be sick with longing” and watching “Burnt” will definitely make your mouth water.
It’s too bad that a film so focused on culinary perfection doesn’t spend as much time on cinematic perfection. Great acting and inciting cinematography can only carry a film so far and then it starts to burden a bored audience. “Burnt” looks appetizing but has a slightly bitter finish.