3 Michelin stars (Burnt movie review)

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) has a dream. He wants his restaurant to be the best in the entire world and to achieve this goal he completes crew of cooking maestros and virtuosos. What’s interesting, the protagonist of John Wells’ movie “Burnt” doesn’t start from zero – his story is about coming back to the first league.

Adam is a charismatic chef who as a young cook became famous as a guru of Parisian restaurateurs. He used to be brave enough to experiment and follow his instinct and imagination in creating intriguing, unconventional combinations of flavours. Unfortunately, the weight of fame became unbearable for his young spirit. His tendency to self-destruction and an intense sexual-vodka-drug diet meant that he lost his position, friends and fortune. He has disappeared from the headlines and dissolved into the air. We meet him as a more mature man who freed himself from all addictions and mental barriers. Like a fallen pop star after rehab, he plans to resuscitate his career. He is trying his hand at the heart of culinary London. To do so, he manages a group of very talented eccentrics. He wants third Michelin star and to be back on the top. Love is not a thing that he has put in this scenario. Will Helene (Sienna Miller) complicate his plans?

The story is pretty obvious and predictable, but at the same time the creators of the movie fulfil the scheme with some unexpected elements, surprising dialogues and funny gags. It’s like baking cheesecake from grandma’s recipe and following the instructions but at the same time allowing some variations: adding blueberries instead of raisins, replacing lemon with orange skin etc. At the end you get the well-known traditional taste, but can also surprise your guests with some unexpected, nice modifications. “Burnt” is the movie that realizes the scheme of typical romantic comedy and will satisfy lovers of this genre, but at the same time doesn’t ignore the needs of those who want something more.

The protagonist – his story, issues, fears, and dreams are one of the best components of the script. Bradley Cooper in the role of sickly ambitious arrogant, who has problems with anger control, does pretty amazing job. He is memorable, moving and thrilling at the same time. What’s important, the leading role is not the only attitude of “Burnt”. Also in the dialogues and monologues you can find some brilliant pieces – for example impressive Adam’s speech about the awesomeness of Burger King; same can be said about situational gags – for example when the movie’s black character makes omelette for the protagonist and somehow manages to lift his spirit.

The creators of the movie seem to be inspired also by reality-shows like “Master Chef” and  “Hell’s Kitchen”, which can be seen in their focus on contrasting the beauty and sublimely of dishes with the brutality of behind the scenes. On the one side we see sweat, curses and scorched pots, when the second one is made of shiny plates with intricate works of culinary art on them. Another interesting collision happens on the backstage which seems to be divided into two worlds. In the first one Adam and his crew is using all traditional kitchen tools. In the second one pans, saucepans, bowls and all other things that make cooking possible are replaced by machines that seem to be taken from different reality or sci-fi movie. What’s interesting, the director doesn’t paint those two orders in black-and-white and avoids demonization of technology. Instead, he shows that best results come from the peaceful alliance of tradition and modernity.

John Wells used a recipe well-known in the cinema and balanced all proportions with alchemic accuracy. So we can laugh a little, be moved, cheer on the main character, but at the same time get a little tired of him. The movie serves a large portion of optimism, perfectly complemented by the colourful style of extremely photogenic dishes that, be aware, can do both – cause serious hunger and inspire culinary experiments. And although the story is lacking spices and develops in an easily predictable direction, yet sometimes the simplest dishes taste the most.