Adam Jones is a brilliant chef with two Michelin stars to his name. In the past, if you could shoot it, snort it, screw it or swallow it, chances are he abused it. Two years into his sobriety, Adam is now on the road to redemption. He's relocated to London with his eyes on the prize - a third star. Coercing old and new friends and enemies, he manipulates his way into a restaurant to make his dreams come true - but not without a few ghosts still hot on his heels.
To set a film in a professional kitchen opens you up to a million stories and characters full of pressure cooker arrogance, rivalry, self-centredness, violence and egos galore. All of that is present and rife in 'Burnt', so what's missing? Oh yeah, food. Like in real life, a film about a restaurant acts the same way: you come for the people, stay for the food. We want smell-a-vision, and to feel like we're eating with our eyes. Only last year did 'Chef' do this to perfection. In 'Burnt', if pigeon, turbot, rabbit and tarragon whip you into a pre-orgasmic gastronomical frenzy, then this is the movie for you - or if you like the idea of watching Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller lick spoons for an hour and a half.
The stakes are never firmly set here. Why does Adam want a third Michelin star? Because he strives for perfection. What happens if he doesn't get it? He'll fall off the wagon? We the audience never really know. It's hard to root for a prick to succeed, it's even harder when you don't know why you want him to. Nevertheless, 'Burnt' has a strong and talented cast lead by Cooper and Miller with Omar Sy, Daniel Brühl, Matthew Rhys and Emma Thompson rounding them out.
Director John Wells' last project was 'August: Osage Country'. He's an "actor's director" who favours a layered character over a juicy storyline any day, and that's exactly what you're getting with 'Burnt'... Come for the food but stay for the people. While the film itself is undercooked it's the ensemble - or "tasting menu", if you will - that keeps it compelling.