More punch needed in this dish

Bradley Cooper is a chef who tries to make good again and his love interest is Sienna Miller (both above).
Bradley Cooper is a chef who tries to make good again and his love interest is Sienna Miller (both above).PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / DRAMA

BURNT (NC16)

100 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**1/2

The story: Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was once a cocky young chef in Paris until drugs did him in. Years later, he resurfaces in London and seeks redemption by going after that elusive third Michelin star by cooking at Tony's (Daniel Bruhl) restaurant.

How things have changed for actor Bradley Cooper.

Ten years ago, he was starring in a sitcom called Kitchen Confidential (2005), playing a bad-boy chef who was once addicted to alcohol and drugs trying to make a comeback. It was cancelled after four episodes.

Now, he is an award-winning actor with critical and popular hits such as American Sniper (2014), in which his name appears above the title in the movie poster.

Which is why Burnt is such an odd choice for him. Why take on a familiar role that he had played before?

If this was some ill-conceived attempt to do over the past, well, it failed.

Kitchen Confidential was based on chef Anthony Bourdain's best-selling book.

Even though Burnt is not beholden to a memoir, its chef is in the same mould - one with a fiery temper to go with the mercurial talent. The thing is, we have had this dish before.

It seems rather unbelievable as well that Jones would be so hostile to sous vide cooking one moment - "cooking in condoms" - and then capitulating the next, simply because Helene (Sienna Miller) says so.

Helene is supposedly a talented cook in her own right, but really, she seems to be there as an all-too-convenient love interest for Jones. At least she seems more integral to the plot than Emma Thompson's cookie-cutter psychiatrist who dispenses bland advice.

There is an attempt to cook up some drama over the arrival of the mysterious Michelin inspectors, but there is no excitement over the predictable developments.

At least London's vibrant multicultural food scene serves as a colourful backdrop and Daniel Bruhl (Rush, 2013) is quietly affecting as someone carrying a torch for Jones.

Not quite burnt then, but this dish could certainly do with greater depth and intensity of flavour.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'More punch needed in this dish'. Print Edition | Subscribe