Bradley Cooper is Adam Jones, a celebrity chef (spare me). He is chatting up the beautiful Helene in a fast food joint, with the aim of hiring her to work as a cook in his kitchen. She is devoted to haute cuisine, but Adam confronts her with an utterly convincing and true demythologising of the cult of food snobbery – from whence you might expect John Wells’s movie to not fawn so slavishly over the ‘chef as genius’ paradigm. There is a lot of writing by numbers as we follow Adam’s troubled character arc (yawn) from ruination to redemption. He is a reformed junkie/alcoholic and you know that at a crisis will topple him off the wagon and jeopardise the progress he has made, just as you know for sure that the heavies to whom he owes money will give him a (deserved) hiding. You also have no doubt that he will get the girl (that surely can’t be a spoiler), but what I found almost inexplicable was that Helene would have anything to do with him.
In the throes of a tanty and in front of her fellow employees, he grabs her violently by the scruff of the neck and bombards her with a torrent of abuse. Later, upon hearing some news that makes him sad, he abandons her at a swank function so that he can wander around a market feeling sorry for himself. Tony (played by the wonderful Daniel Brühl), the gay maître d suffering a long held, unrequited love for Adam, is similarly forgiving of the great man. And what the weirdly dressed Emma Thompson is doing in the mix taking blood samples from Adam is beyond me. Though filmed with panache, there are probably more quick-cut collages of meals being prepared than is necessary (George Harrison singing ‘clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon’ from ‘Piggies’ flew into my mind), but the surprise act of revenge is a beauty. It’s an okay movie, but not nearly as good as Ratatouille.