Poor reviews don’t do ‘Burnt’ justice; story of chef’s quest for three Michelin stars is about more than cooking

Despite receiving less than satisfactory reviews, “Burnt,” released on Oct. 30, is captivating and fiery yet still humorous.

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is the head chef of a restaurant awarded two Michelin stars.

Michelin, the tire company, publishes a book every year with a list of restaurants, each awarded one, two or three stars. As another chef in the movie states, “To get even one Michelin star, you have to be, like, Luke Skywalker.

“If you manage to get three, you’re Yoda.”

But drugs and alcohol put a pause to Jones’s career, forcing him to leave his restaurant in Paris.

However, soon Jones is given a second chance when his former maître d’ reluctantly hires him as head chef of The Langham, his restaurant.

Jones tries to fulfill his dream of earning three Michelin stars, but many people from his past – from drug dealers to other chefs – want to stop him.

The only way Jones can overcome these obstacles and obtain the third star is through trust and collaboration, something that he must learn to accept.

Cooper’s performance as a motivating yet charming chef deserves much more than a mere 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.  

However, many of the negative reviews brought up issues I hadn’t realized while watching the film. That’s because the last 10 minutes are so perfectly constructed that the viewer leaves the theater thinking of the ending, and ignoring all other flaws.

For example, the first 15 minutes of the movie follow Jones as he meets many of his acquaintances from his past. Chefs young and old, restaurant reviewers and old friends are all shown, but none of them are given a good introduction, so I sat in the almost-empty theater confused as to who they were. Only later in the film does it become clear who is who.

In addition, for the majority of the movie, Jones is portrayed as a temperamental and cocky chef. Although occasionally there are glimmers of Jones as a “good guy,” that personality is never given a chance to grow before something else goes awry and more plates are broken.

However, even though Jones isn’t the most relatable character, I felt myself hoping that he would succeed.

On top of that, the modern, exquisite food shown throughout the movie (with recipes conveniently located on the movie’s website) give “Burnt” a sense of sophistication.  

In “Burnt,” there is so much more than the usual, predictable parts of a movie. Yes, there is a love interest. Yes, Jones goes on a “hero’s journey” and learns from his mistakes.

But, with a clean and sober – yet still slightly crazy – chef, anything can happen. From people measuring the distance between forks on a table to Sienna Miller (who plays one of the chefs) apologizing to a piece of fish for not cooking it well enough, “Burnt” offers something new for everyone.

This movie isn’t perfect, but no movie is. Movies are supposed to entertain, to make the time spent watching them well spent.

“Burnt” isn’t just about cooking; it’s about perseverance and collaboration.

Overall, I found the film well crafted and executed despite its flaws. But then again, I would enjoy anything if it had such incredible food involved.

—By Allison Zhang

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