Chef, writer and host Anthony Bourdain surprised everyone by coming to an end in 2018 as he was admired for his authentic approach to food, culture and travel. A documentary looks back on his life.
We can’t say that Roadrunner – A Film About Anthony Bourdain shows the man behind the figure. Whether as a conductor or as an author, Bourdain stood out for his authenticity, his integrity and his rejection of pretense. He was anything but a character …
As they say in his native language, he was no bullshit. However, very little was known about him.
It is the private, or at least internal, life of the famous host of Parts Unkown that the director Morgan Neville tries to better understand in the documentary which he devotes to him. Bourdain the father, Bourdain the friend, Bourdain the lover of three women and Bourdain the tormented who tragically ended his life in 2018 …
The documentary opens with images of the globetrotter in front of the sea. With his voice over and his unique elocution, Bourdain says he thinks about death every day …
It is known, Bourdain was a being of excess and a workaholic. Overnight, he ended his heroin addiction. When he took up ju-jitsu, he put his heart and soul into this martial art.
Before releasing the book that revealed it to the world, Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain woke up with only one idea in mind: to light a cigarette, open his computer and write… This is what he confides in his New York apartment at the time in Roadrunner – A Film About Anthony Bourdain.
With the shows, interviews and reports that Bourdain starred during his career, Morgan Neville had a tremendous pool of archives to make his film. The great added value to the images of the past is the interviews with his relatives: his producers from the beginning, Lydia Teneglia and Chris Collins, his editor and agent, Kimberly Witherspoon, and his many friends.
Neville, as he demonstrated in his excellent documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, knows how to make people talk. The interviews with the members of the Bourdain film crew are extremely interesting and revealing. We learn how hard Bourdain’s time on TV was for him. At one point, he describes himself with some disappointment as “a defector” (defector) from the kitchen.
Bourdain had a rock’n’roll spirit and way of life. He counted among his friends Iggy Pop, Alison Mosshart and Josh Homme, to whom we owe the song of the credits of Parts Unkown. In the film, the latter and Bourdain talk about the difficult reconciliation of family and work abroad.
The final third of the film focuses on the reasons that prompted Bourdain to end his life. There is a large part of settling accounts with actress Asia Argento (with whom Bourdain was in a relationship when she died). There are also friends of Bourdain who have remorse. David Chang cries on camera when he says he received an email from Bourdain who was sorry for not being a good father …
There is also an enlightening interview with the mother of his daughter, Ottavia Busia. And of course, another with his great friend Eric Ripert, with whom Bourdain was filming in Alsace when he committed suicide.
At the end of his life, the coolest and most humanistic of globetrotters was not doing well. This is why his shootings always took him further. His romantic relationship with Asia Argento also made him make decisions that confused those around him.
But we don’t tell you more. If you still mourn the death of Anthony Bourdain or if you regret not having followed his adventures during his lifetime, watch Roadrunner – A Film About Anthony Bourdain.
In theaters this Friday
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Roadrunner – A Film About Anthony Bourdain
With Anthony Bourdain, Éric Ripert, Ottavia Busia, David Chang, Josh Homme
1 h 58
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