Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Rated PG.
Ten years ago, Bradley Cooper played a character called Jack Bourdain (seriously) in a short-lived TV series called Kitchen Confidential, spun off from that bestseller of the same name. Still riffing on Tony with no reservations, he now plays the rudimentarily named Adam Jones, a once-top chef who lost it all to the usual excesses.
Happily, writer Stephen Knight and director John Wells spare us the sordid details. Instead, they pick things up when the newly sober Jones returns to London from a self-imposed Louisiana exile, ready to start over with friends and enemies. These are sometimes the same people, as various colleagues and rivals sniff out how much trouble the guy is carrying with his custom knives. Among many, there’s the French colleague (The Intouchables’ Omar Sy) whose girlfriend Adam poached back when he was always baked, and the stylish competitor (Matthew Rhys) who can’t seem to escape his epicurean shadow.
The maître d’ (Daniel Brühl) at the Paris restaurant Adam ruined now runs his own hotel, and he agrees to let the swaggering American—who already has two Michelin stars and speaks pretty good French and Italian—launch his new spot there, as long as he stays clean and sees a shrink (Emma Thompson). The movie hardly needs psychological intervention, because Burnt (which was going to be called Chef until Jon Favreau’s food-truck movie came along) is itself a kind of culinary therapy.
Cooper is suitably intense as a kitchen tyrant serious about eating and self-improvement. And the moment he adds a female line chef (his American Sniper colead Sienna Miller) to his Dirty Dozen–like crew, it’s more than obvious where his redemption will come from. The ingredients are just what you expect, but Wells and company manage to concoct 100 minutes of palatable entertainment. Of course, you will be hungry less than an hour later.