Review: ‘Burnt’ Is Not ‘Overcooked’ Like Most Critics Say
“Burnt” may have its flaws, but it’s certainly not the failure depicted by review aggregators (*cough* Rotten Tomatoes *cough*)
When it comes to cooking and film, it’s usually very hit or miss. They’re usually a hit like “Chef” or a flop like “No Reservations,” but rarely do they find a gray area.
“Burnt” is one of those films that falls into that gray area. With its focus on the cooking process and its neglect of plot elements and character development, somewhere in between it still manages to find its appeal to certain audiences.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, Etc.) – 2.5
When fleshing out the details of the lack of effort in regards to plot and character development, there isn’t much to be said. It’s a simplified story about characters that we know little to nothing about. Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones, a chef with a history of substance abuse and a bit of a letdown in his community. Once regarded as one of the most prominent chefs in the world, his addiction set him on a course for failure which he plans to rectify.
While that sounds like an intriguing story, much of Adam’s history remains in the dark throughout the film. As the film progresses we learn small details about the character through supporting characters whom we also know little about. But while the details of this film are few and far between, the focus on process and technique of the culinary arts is an enlightening one.
You may be surprised to know that Chef Gordon Ramsay was an executive producer for “Burnt” and it shows through the intricate culinary details of this film. The cooking, the preparation, the dialogue, and even the dining area are all representative of the real life attributes to gaining acclaim as a 3 star Michelin chef. I admit that the character development and plot were lacking but visually I found cinematic bliss from the artistry that was each dish prepared by Adam Jones and his team. For chefs and food aficionados, “Burnt” may appeal to you solely on a cinematography and process-oriented level.
But regardless of its visual appeal and moments of intellectual intrigue, the film still suffers structurally on a cinematic level. I think many will appreciate aspects of this film but cinephiles will definitely notice its flaws.
Entertainment Value – 3.5
Outside of structure and composition when it comes to filmmaking, “Burnt” was actually entertaining for the most part. The plot was simple but it was also simple to follow. The characters had no true depth or history but Adam’s motive was clear and it was strong enough for you become invested in whether or not he achieves his goal.
And while these characters lack depth, they are far from lifeless. Every bit of them is put into the food and “Burnt” depicts this by giving you almost 2 hours of their unrelenting work in the kitchen. They aren’t as much characters as they are workers who all share one common goal. You may not find yourself invested in their personal lives but their dreams and goals are apparent through their lavish output from the kitchen to the table. It’s almost like watching a cinematic version of your favorite Food Network show.
Re-Watchability – 3
Believe it or not, I wouldn’t mind sitting through “Burnt” again. I don’t think it would be a go to film but I could see myself sharing the experience with someone else or even leaving it on in the background for cooking inspiration. It’s simple fun, not hard to follow, and one of those mindless films that you can enjoy without paying attention from beginning to end.
Directed by John Wells
Written by Steven Knight (screenplay), Michael Kalesniko (story)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl
Runtime: 141 Minutes
MPAA Rating: R
"Burnt" may be a bit "undercooked" in many cinematic areas but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. You won't find a film that invokes an emotional response here, but you may find a simplistic model for entertainment through visuals and process.