In the last 3 years or so when you manage to get Bradley Cooper to star in a film, you are usually going to get great things. He has had three Oscar nominations in as many years enough said. When you get Sienna Miller to costar with him that’s even better.. you are expecting AMAZING things especially coming off of last year’s masterpiece “American Sniper”. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and this film was far from being done and I don’t think it was their fault. The story could have gone in so many different directions, and had several missteps along the way that left me with questions. (I’ll get to those later)
Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones, an arrogant, and brash two time Michelin Star award winning chef who has lost his way through sex, drugs, and women. He returns to London after a three year hiatus and being “off the radar” wanting to win his third Star. The first misstep was in the beginning of the film.. where we see Jones with a small book, and a bag of oysters where he explains it in a voiceover, however the book was never referenced again until about 15 minutes left in the film. After shucking 1,000,000 oysters in New Orleans we see him leave a small shop he was in presumably quitting his job and returning to London. It was “his punishment” for his previous indiscretions, which we find out about later.
Once in London Adam first goes to a restaurant that his mentor used to run, now his son Tony (Daniel Bruhl) operates because his father was ill and dying. He is the maître and previously had a history with Adam. That leads me into misstep number two.. which is we only see Tony’s father briefly, and he looks to be in perfect health. Adam begins his recruiting tour by going to another restaurant where he catches up with an old friend, and while having lunch there he has a delicious meal prepared by the chef. The friend brings him back to meet Helene (Sienna Miller) who is hard at work. She seems to brush him off and move on. After a couple of more stops he goes back to Tony and offers to run his kitchen, but not before essentially blackmailing his way in. Tony agrees to let him do this. However, to make sure Adam stays on the straighten arrow he must have a weekly blood test by a doctor of his choosing. Adam agrees, and begins seeing Dr. Rosshilde (Emma Thompson) to satisfy Tony.
In the beginning, we see the kitchen very dysfunctional and unorganized. At the end of the first night Adam erupts at everyone, and insults Helene who has agreed to come work for him after he got her fired from her old job. She quits, and the kitchen is in ruins.. or so you think, Tony convinces her to come back and work with him. She agrees and as the film goes on you see the kitchen start to progressive improve. Another aspect of the film that I think got lost in it was the fact that Helene was a single mother of a nine year old named Lilly (Lexie Benbow-Hart) who was very good for a child actor, the problem was we didn’t get to see enough of her. There was a touching moment when Adam reluctantly made her a cake for her birthday and they bonded.
One of the chefs that Adam brought in to his kitchen was named Michel (Omar Sy). Adam had basically gotten his restaurant shut down by an inspector when things didn’t go his way. Michel had forgiven him for that, but something happens that nearly ruins the whole thing. Meanwhile, while Adam thinks he is ruined two guys occasionally keep showing up wanting money for an old debt. Adam’s rival Reece (Michael Rhys) wants him to fail at whatever cost, but eventually ends up helping him because they were trained by the same mentor. Another sous chef that had a supporting role was David (Sam Keeley), he was recruited by Adam, and eventually learned how to become a better chef. At an opening party for Reece, his old flame (Alicia Vikander) shows up and made contact with him. She eventually does something that helps Adam. Without giving too much away, but did bother me because I felt like Adam should have done it.
So, after the major drama was over leading up to the climax, the last 20 or so minutes were better but not great. You could see where the character arcs were heading, and it was predictable. As the film was winding down, I still had questions for example: how did the hot potato soup do on the menu..? Why didn’t they make the Adam and Lilly more of a storyline instead of just a scene..? Lastly, why wasn’t their any chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller like there was in “Sniper”..? I suspect it had to do with the story.
Believe it or not though, there WERE good things about this film… for example I found it interesting that Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsey were brought on as consultants to advise. Some of the camerawork concerning depth of field was done beautifully especially a scene with Adam and Tony in the bedroom, and finally the quick shots of the food being cooked and prepped were very cool, and it gives you an insight to what goes on in a kitchen of that caliber.
All in all, I think this movie had a lot of potential that just didn’t get utilized. If nothing else, the names Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller will attract you to this. I would say only go see this as a last resort. I left with an empty stomach wanting more.