Film Review

JOHN WELLS’ BURNT — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Burnt is enjoyable fluff but should have been meatier, a decent first and second course, but it felt like old Harvey Scissorhands didn’t include the dessert. Now that I’ve got enough bad food puns out of the way, this movie was extremely sharp looking (MONTAGE POWER), Bradley Cooper was very commanding (he plays a terrific jerk, with the various outbursts in the kitchen registering as the film’s strongest scenes), the supporting cast is very deep (Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Omar Sy, Alicia Vikander, Emma Thompson), and it’s engagingly directed by John Wells. But, it’s the script by Steven Knight (Locke, Dirty Pretty Things) that felt surprisingly undernourished, or, more was shot and for some reason taken out of the final cut. And if that’s the case, I can’t begin to understand why. Not that what we’ve been given is bad; it’s just mostly predictable and it felt too quick and a tad slight. Cooper’s personal reflection/awakening happened awfully fast for someone with so many personal demons, and all of his potentially dangerous side issues got too neatly wrapped up. The real star of Burnt is the food and the high-energy scenes set inside of Cooper’s kitchen, as this is where the film feels truly alive. The filmmakers really nailed the chaos that overtakes a bustling cooking space, and Cooper’s performance was clearly inspired by real-life bad boy chefs who take their work very, very seriously. Interesting to note that Cooper played a sanitized version of this character on the short lived FOX TV series Kitchen Confidential. Also interesting to note, this project bears striking similarities to an unproduced screenplay that made the rounds about a decade ago called Seared, which was written by one-time flavor of the week Jesse Wigutow (who also penned the similarly unproduced yet fantastic Urban Townie), and was primed to be a David Fincher/Brad Pitt package. As is, Burnt is solidly decent, fast moving (a bit too fast), and always a slick visual treat. It’s what I’d like to call a Good Netflix.

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