‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ Review

‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ Review

A documentary about the uncommon life of the late storyteller, explorer, and chef, Anthony Bourdain.

Director: Morgan Neville 

In theatres July 16, 2021

It is considered useful and enlightening and therapeutic to think about death for a few minutes a day.

Anthony Bourdain

Hearing those words coming out his mouth was something I, myself, had never thought about. But, of course, I have thought about death, but to not this extent, more of what happens or what doesn’t happen, and every couple of months, it comes across my mind, not daily.

Bourdain’s vibrant personality shows early and often within the documentary. He is funny, charming, and full of life. His first book Kitchen Confidential was a controversial one as he exposed the secrets of what goes on behind those kitchen doors. But, instead of a significant blowback, he became a New York Times best-seller. His rise to stardom after the book was fast and unexpected. 

The rise came with some obstacles; everyone wanted Anthony’s piece and wasn’t sure how to handle it. Chris and Linda were following him struggled with him early on because Anthony was shy and reserved about opening up. But one day, a switch flipped, and Anthony became a student of the game. He realized it was more about the idea of him trying the food and less about him, himself. So we start to see the charismatic Anthony we all know and love.

One thing that makes this documentary work is the older footage and utilizing this to tell the story. We don’t have hours of people just talking about the man that was Anthony Bourdain. Director Morgan Neville made Bourdain the star that he was and let the stories be told in the backdrop. He also uses the footage we didn’t get to see on TV to highlight the highs and lows of Bourdain, but in a way that makes you further immerse yourself in who Anthony was, not just as a man but as a person. It was about so much more than just the little pieces we’ve gotten to see over the years.

photo courtesy of Focus Features

I blame my first oyster for everything I did after, my thrill-seeking, all my hideous screwups in my pursuit of pleasure

Anthony Bourdain

Although stardom is something so many seek, we see how it catches up with those who end up in the spotlight. We see stars on the front pages of magazines, tabloids and can’t even buy a cup of coffee. But, how Anthony faced it, it was in a much wilder fashion. As he traveled the world, everyone knew who he was, and it had these lasting effects on him because the countries he visited weren’t always the most stable of places.

Every American should see the results of war.

Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain said this as he met with this man in Haiti, who felt the lasting effect of what America had done to them. There was so much food leftover during one episode that they started to hand it out to others, which turned out to be a free-for-all. These trips changed who Anthony was and made him not only a better man but a better father.

If you just follow the news, you will be reminded of kidnaps in Algeria, unrest in Tunesia, terrorist cells to the south, deadly in Egypt, and of course, Islamic extremist attacks in Benghazi that killed a US Ambassador. All those things are very real concerns, but if you only look at what’s on the news, you could miss maybe, what’s a bigger picture.

Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain was this brilliant man filled with wise words and artistic thoughts and a man with an open mind. He would walk into countries with this mind frame of ‘I know what I hear, but I wanted to form my own opinions.’ For me, that’s something inspirational and something we should all strive to try to be. Although, like the rest of us, he had his demons, he utilized these demons to elevate those around him to be better.

The final act displays Bourdain on the last years of his life, and it breaks you. The emotional toll this life had taken on him has become a little too much. Another divorce, unsure of who or what he was, and the struggle to find that happy place. He started to struggle on-screen, which is something that never happened. He began to reject and hurt those around him. You can’t help but feel the pain this man went through, and that is a massive credit to our director.

Going into this, my knowledge of who Anthony Bourdain was minimal, I have a friend who is captivated by him and played (s) a pivotal role in who she is, but I went into this with high expectations because of this her. I wanted to walk away with a complete understanding of why this man has captivated so many people worldwide. Director Morgan Neville not only met my expectations but also exceeded them. The idea that this one man impacted so many lives rings true throughout the entirety of this film. Roadrunner is one of the most emotionally draining documentaries you will watch this year.

The Verdict: A

Roadrunner is a powerful look into the brilliant mind that was Anthony Bourdain.

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