Foodies have been dominating films for the last couple of years, and while we seem to get one or two outstanding ones (Julie & Julia, Chef, The Hundred Foot Journey) Safe to say there has been sufficient time for screenwriter Steven Knight (The Hundred Foot Journey) and director John Wells (August Osage County, The Company Men) to craft a foodie fuelled drama that showcases Bradley Cooper in his best acting role yet, with spectacular food cinematography to create one of the most intriguing films of 2015.
Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is recovering from an addiction meltdown in Paris, after exiling himself to New Orleans to shuck a million oysters as penance, he travels to London to recruit some old colleagues he screwed over in Paris, Tony (Daniel Bruhl) and Michel (Omar Sy), as well as recruiting single mother Helene (Sienna Miller) and checking in weekly for a drug test with Dr Rosshilde (Emma Thompson) in the hopes of winning back the trust of his colleagues and earning that all important third Michelin star.
The entire ensemble here shines in their roles, while the script sometimes leaves a bit much to be desired, the performances outshine the dullness of the writing. Bradley Cooper in particular revels in this role (admittedly the last thing I saw him in was the brilliant The Silver Linings Playbook) Cooper is passionate, angry, addicted but still oozes charm and sex appeal that is shown through his relationship with Tony and Helene.
The surprise in this was Uma Thurman, who admittedly is only an appearance, but it was long enough to be impressionable. Her clothing, her accent, her pose and posture as a lesbian food critic was flawless, enough to be unforgettable yet leaving the audience craving more. Emma Thompson interacts with Cooper in perfect contrast and is one of the more interesting on screen pairings in this film.
The cinematography of the cooking process and the food being prepared and served is beautiful and reminiscent of Hundred Foot Journey. The way the scenes are cut together is also something different, it is not traditional film scene transitioning, instead is this staccato mix that moves the story through time and events that are important to the characters, but not important enough to give more than 20 – 30 seconds of screen time.
Bradley Cooper speaks French in this film, and dressed in a leather jacket, tight jeans and those sparkling blue eyes, can I please make on request? PLEASE let him speak French in every single movie from here on in? (ladies and gays am I right?) Cooper shines in this film and really helps bring a level of depth and understanding to the ideas of redemption and societies reaction to people with addiction.
The film has been panned by critics and the release window in the USA was drastically reduced after they started appearing, however I found that this film is the story driven, character explosion that has been lacking from our screen this year. The story is solid, the cinematography is astonishing, London looks beautiful and you really feel you have been on a journey with these characters and wanting them to succeed.
Burnt is playing in cinemas now
Review by Alaisdair Leith