Reel Time #1: A Review of Burnt

Should I or shouldn’t I? It’s the Melbourne Cup, and it’s my day off, and I want to see a movie. But you’ll be out of a job in February. And your lease expires in Feb, too. I think you should take the safe route and save your money, says the Daniel on my shoulder dressed in the latest angelwear.

Nah. I fucking love movies, man. Which means I gotta find the time and money for them, because they’re my passion.

I’d already done my yoga, my walk, and some writing for the day. Emails were all sent. All the little boxes in my checklist, ticked. Now, I wanted to see a movie. And see a movie I did.

Burnt is the story of Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), the ex-drug using, foul-mouthed and foul-mooded 2-star Michelin chef who’s just shucked his one-millionth oyster in self-imposed exile. Why? As penance for the disgraced drug, booze and sex-fueled spiral that led to his downfall from the top of the heap as Paris’s most celebrated chef.

And now he’s back – but this time in London – and he’s after his 3rd Michelin star. Director John Wells tells the story of Burnt in rapid bursts, using quick shots and stylish editing to bring to life the insanity and fury that encapsulates Jones, his kitchen, and his relationships, as well as his single-minded method of madness.
The cast is pretty spot on, too. Sienna Miller plays Jones’s adversary-then-lover. Daniel Brühl, of Joyeux Noel and Inglorious Basterds fame, is the charismatic and slightly camp South-American maître d’. There’s a quick cameo from Uma Thurman as a hard-hearted food critic with a soft spot for our protagonist, but I was most happy to see the much-loved (well, I love him) Omar Sy slowly edging his way in to the American market as the questionable Michel.

But the greatest thing about Burnt is that it’s a movie about the pursuit of one’s passion. I felt thoroughly moved watching Jones as he doggedly claws his way back from obscurity and addiction, winning friends and losing them along the way.

It got me thinking a lot about the inherent need to put yourself out there if you want to achieve your goals. How, if you want something bad enough, you need just the right mix of grit, grovel, craziness – and a little help from your friends – to get to the top of your desired heap.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life hiding from the spotlight, because it scares me. Pure and simple. It’s easier to hide in obscurity than try and fail, and have your efforts subjected to scrutiny. It links closely to the experience of shame, that horrible feeling that rarely has a good word to say about anything positive.

But here I am, trying still, one day at a time. Here’s to good flicks and fervent determination!


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