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Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Sam Keeley, Alicia Vikander, Matthew Rhys, Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson, Lily James, Sarah Greene

Director: John Wells

After his dramatic travails starring in American Sniper and on stage in The Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper carries on by keeping the drama hot, spicy (but sadly just a tad undercooked at times) playing a once- hallowed Michelin starred chef in Paris brought down by drugs, drink and his unfortunate inability to understand his own fallibilities.

Now reduced to making some sort of living shucking oysters in Darkest Louisiana, Cooper decides to head for London, revive his career as a top chef and achieve his dream of adding a third Michelin star to the pair he has already won.

Given the patently assured ending, screenwriter Steven Wright (working from a story by Michael Kalesniko), has cooked up a lively tale of arrogance initially brought down then rewarded, and spiced it with a mixed stew of characters and enough mouthwatering meals to bring devoted foodies to orgasm.

Indeed, my guess is that foodies will probably have a ball gulping down the cooking sequences, leaving the dramatic helpings – romantic and otherwise – on the side of the plate.

True, we can be pretty certain what tasty dessert director John Wells is going to serve up at the climax. That said, he makes getting there unexpectedly entertaining with a combination of romance, angst, redemption and sizzling cooking sequences guaranteed to make even slimmers drool.

Unmemorable, perhaps, but definitely yummy on the screen.

It’s Cooper’s show and he knows it, working really hard to create a credible character and, impressively, making his expletive-splattered creation of trendy meals quite credible. When he states “My kitchen is going to be the best in the world” you know he means it and he gives the impression that he would be perfectly happy to slice, dice and sauté anyone who stands in the way of his obsession to win a third Michelin star.

While the supporting cast is, essentially, there simply to support Cooper, they provide a spicy enough mixed dressing, led by Sienna Miller as the Viagra sauce, Emma Thompson wasted as a shrink who helps Cooper to come to terms with himself, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman, Omar Sy and Daniel Bruhl.

Ironically, given the all too prevalent contemporary obsession with product placement, the hamburger joint Burger King gets a major plug here, somewhat surprisingly given the patently expensive dishes that drive the drama.

And, talking about product placement, Michelin and The Times receive positive comments – unlike “the F****** Evening Standard”.

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Technicolor.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 07 Nov 2015