Film scores

Soundtrack review: Burnt (Rob Simonsen – 2015)

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“Burnt” is a 2015 American drama film directed by John Wells and written by Steven Knight, from a story by Michael Kalesniko. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Daniel Brühl, Matthew Rhys, Riccardo Scamarcio, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman and Emma Thompson. Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. The score is written by one of my favorite names, Rob Simonsen.

I have a strange reaction to the opening cue “Adam arrives to London”. I sounds to rock or grungy to make me connect with it the way I do to film music. I know it’s just me but there’s a certain sound which even if it’s enjoyable sort of tears the thin wall that separates the magic of film music from normal music. Too many popular music instruments and all of a sudden I feel as if I’m waiting for the lyrics to start. I’m not a huge fan of the overuse of electric guitar in a film score.

It’s not until “Cooking for Simone” that I start warming up to the score. There’s a small motif in there that just charms me and reminds me why I like Simonsen’s compositions so much. This is the guy who can write the most wonderful little cues, never very complex but always heartwarming. I think Rob Simonsen is the composer who can put a smile on my face faster than anyone else with his music. I’m having a difficult time really feeling this in “Burnt” though. There are bits and pieces I really like and I wish were more developed but I also find a lot of rather generic moments that I will probably forget as soon as the score is over.

For me “Burnt” was textbook romantic comedy music. I know the plot says that this is actually a drama but I recognize the light and playful sound of your garden variety rom com. Then there are those modern rock moments which take away some of the magic for me. Thankfully there are also moments like “Soft center” when I just close my eyes and dream. That is the changing point of the score for me… something happens from that moment on and the composer gets serious. I finally feel the emotions I was expecting from this score, as a big Rob Simonsen fan. The final few tracks from “Burnt” are completely different from the first ten and they change my perspective of the music. They are like the signature the painter puts in the lower corner of his creation to cast away any doubt…

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 31

Album excellence: 36%

Highlights;

05 Presentation

11 Soft Center

12 Adam’s List

14 For Paris

15 Yes Chef

16 We Do What We Do

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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