Sunday, October 1, 2017


Movie Name: Burnt
Year of Release: 2015
Director: John Wells
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Emma Thompson, Matthew Rhys, Omar Sy, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sam Keeley, Riccardo Scamarcio, Stephen Campbell Moore
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Director John Wells has made a name for himself as a producer on many iconic TV shows of the past 20 years ("ER" and "The West Wing" to name but a few). All of his directorial efforts have been, thus far, based on great material and filled with terrific casts - though all of them have been met with tepid responses (both critically and commercially). "Burnt" (originally titled "Adam Jones"), follows the story of Adam Jones, a superstar chef, who following an excessive period of a few years where he was on top of his profession, burned out (made some dubious choices in the process) and had to quietly leave the spotlight, in order to heal. The film follows Adam as he returns to London, and reconnects with some people he wronged, as he tries to create a new team, and reclaim the ever elusive third Michelin star for his pantheon. The process forces him to deal with his past behaviors, make amends, and generally learn about what it means to grow up.
"Burnt" (or "Adam Jones"), features a script by renowned writer Steven Knight (who wrote David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises", Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things" and his own "Locke"). Lamentably it's a film that tries very hard to portray Adam as a charismatic and incensed person, who provokes others and yet functions as a charming leader, however, he mostly comes across as a self centered narcissistic who's followed by a bunch of people/characters wanting to be verbally and physically abused. Somehow while building this story, the film-maker forgot that you have to create credible characters, with an inner life, and with a depth of emotion. Making the film around the quest for redemption of a character is nothing new, and this film certainly manages to tick all the cliches in existence - however it's difficult to really get much empathy for Adam, since it feels like he has nothing to lose, and that ultimately he's just a rich, spoiled individual who wants to win since that's always been the case for his ventures. There's a great cast to work with, but Bradley Cooper isn't at his most subtle, playing Adam very one note. The supporting cast ends up being more interesting, particularly Daniel Bruhl, Matthew Rhys and Emma Thompson. The cinematography from Adriano Goldman is beautiful, but this film nevertheless feels very short of its ambitions. Forgettable.