A rather overcooked romantic dramedy
Does anyone these days aspire to be Gordon Ramsey? Do they wish to control a kitchen as their lair, spewing and spouting swearwords and insults as they prowl? Ramsey had his peak popularity in the mid-noughties, which is probably when this film was first placed on the boil. It then got forgotten about, rushed to be finished with all of its ingredients past sell their best before date.
Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is in New Orleans shucking oysters, noting down the amount as he does so. He hits one million, downs his tools and walks out despots protestations of his employer. Those million oysters were his penance for his past indiscretions, now complete he can have a second chance. He goes to London to reunite his crew, although there is much bad blood between them. Adam was a rock star chef in 90s Paris – renowned for his ability and persona. However Adam was also a drugs, alcohol and sex addict who managed to burn all of his bridges who was forced to flee Paris and go into hiding. He must be forgiven by his old friends and new (Sienna Miller’s Helene) to his dream of three Michelin stars.
The film’s main ingredient (when will the cooking puns end?!?) is Bradley Cooper. Considering the fact the film’s main plot is so outdated it is perhaps the only reason people will go to see the film. However his character is so unappealing and unsympathetic that you’ll feel had. His character’s closest real-life counterpart is Gordon Ramsey, swearing continuously and having frequent blow-ups about food, with every other character either swooning over his apparent but unproven genius or admonishing him for wasting said-genius. There is genuinely no reason to like his character, which is this film’s fatal flaw. As the narrative limbers from one ‘disaster’ to a next tension is supposedly created by our concern on how he will cope/survive. If we don’t like the character enduring the trials then we don’t really care. This isn’t helped by the lack of realism within these trials – he is hounded by drug lords for the money he owes them. These drug lords are immensely polite, turning up occasionally to speak to him away from other people, and only visiting once or twice to hound him for the large amount he owes them. We are meant to care about Cooper’s character – experience concern that he may not achieve his ambition for three Mitchelin stars. Instead we experience disinterest or distain for such an ass-hat of a character.
Sienna Miller however is gutsy, transforming herself into a tattooed, pierced and partly shaven-haired single mother sous chef. Her character is far appealing than Cooper’s. Yet she is forced to endure conversations with Cooper’s character of the nature of food and eating. These conversations are nauseating to watch, not because they are hunger-inducing but for the sheer pretentiousness of their proclamations. ‘We eat to stop eating.’ – That’s sooo deep! The rest of the friendship group are entertaining if one-note; the ex-prisoner, the novice, the daddy issues, the rival etc. The script is bland, drifting from one drama to another, and filled with stupid lines about how John Adams used to be an addict and how he hurt people when he was an addict. It’s all so ridiculous and bordering-on fluff.
If you’re seeing this for Bradley Cooper then don’t waste your time. If you’re seeing it for the food, just re-watch an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. An incredibly dated waste of a movie.