I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie going in. The trailers had my curiosity, but not my attention. The film itself looked fine, but I was in absolutely no rush to go out and see it. If I saw it, I saw it. If I didn't, I'd survive. After a title change and some clichéd advertising material, or lack of, I wasn't really gaining any hype for this movie. But I saw it today, hoping for the best, and I'm happy to report that it's not all that bad of a movie. In fact, I kinda liked it, and it appeared that most of the people at my screening did as well.
Burnt follows the story of Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper). He used to be one of the most beloved chefs in all of Paris, one character describing him as the Rolling Stones of cooking, but after a drug addiction he lost it all. A few years later, Adam cleans up his act and travels to London, hoping to redeem his career and go for a third Michelin star, which is something that's very, very, very hard to do. He opens up a new restaurant with the help of an old friend named Tony (Daniel Brühl), and he hires the best cooks he can find, including a single mum named Helene (Sienna Miller), who he takes quite a liking to, despite her constant protests against his work.
The story of Adam Jones is one you've probably heard many times before. Perhaps not always in the kitchen, but you can work out the gist of things. A down on his luck drug addict decides to pick himself back up off the floor and redeem his career. There's no bumps in the story. You've seen it before in countless variations and they all end the exact same way. There's even a forced in romance between Cooper and Miller's character and while the two have chemistry, the romance felt forced and ultimately unnecessary.
That being said, they both deliver some brilliant performances, in particular Cooper. While the film itself isn't necessarily memorable, his performance is. It probably won't end up giving him any gold statues, but it's an admirable performance. His character is loud and impactful, and Cooper makes his presence known. Then there's Miller, who comes across as a bit more vulnerable, if I'm perfectly honest. Cooper got the brokenness of his character down pat, but not the vulnerability. If he lost anything, I wouldn't really have been impacted by his loss. With Miller, she gives a performance that brings out her character's hidden colours. She brought a lot to her role.
Despite the loss of Jamie Dornan, his role edited out in post, Burnt still manages to whip up a rather large supporting cast. The most important supporting cast member is Daniel Brühl's Tony, who owns the hotel that's helping to provide for Cooper's character. Brühl's performance came as a big surprise. It's not that I was expecting him to be bad, he never is, but it's just that his performance had so much more life to it than I expected, and that's something that can't be said about the rest of the cast. There's so many big names in small roles and nobody really stands out. Nobody except Brühl. It's a bit of a waste, really.
With so many subplots in Burnt, whenever we finally get into the kitchen it comes as a relief. The kitchen scenes are easily the most entertaining component of this film. Seeing Cooper stress out over which critic is sitting where ended up being very entertaining, his dedication to the character bringing out a top notch performance. You can feel the pressure building up in everyone and when they burst, they burst. It's exciting and it's captured excellently, the cinematography coming as a delightful surprise. The other subplots, however, weren't that interesting, especially one involving Cooper and some drug money he owes. This could've been a short and exciting film, but instead it ends up being rather bloated.
To sum up, Burnt is a clichéd and predictable story of redemption that you've heard before. From the moment it starts you know how it's going to end, but thanks to some excellent performances and engaging kitchen scenes, the film ends up not being quite as awful as it could've been.