‘Roadrunner: A Movie About Anthony Bourdain’ Review: Salt, Sugar and No

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There’s hardly a dry eye in the frame at the end of Morgan Neville’s lively, jam-packed documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” but this isn’t epic writing. burdain, who died almost exactly three years ago At 61, there were many things—chef, lecherous, addicted, world traveler—any of which could have been the lodestar of the movie. Yet he has earned a reputation as a writer, and “Roadrunner” builds its sinister, restless form around his words.

These words, sharp and aromatic, spill Bourdain’s books, her television demonstrations and multiple public appearances and archival footage as Neville discusses a personality, this is almost too much for a movie to cry about. Achieving a reputation he distrusted and a title he hated—celebrity chef—by middle age, Bourdain was torn between the euphoric family man and the grumpy workaholic. While he had been free of heroin and cocaine since the late 1980s, he also lacked the punishing restaurant routines he relied on to get rid of his demons.

With tremendous insight, Neville shows us both the empath and the narcissist: the man who refuses to transform the pain he sees in warzones into an ordinary television package and betrays his longtime colleagues to please a new lover.

“You know, something was missing in me, a part of me wanted to be a drug freak,” he admits in a clip. This dark awareness looms over interviews filled with lively anecdotes and loving memories that help explain a death that seemed inexplicable to many. The once miserable, angry boy had turned into a brilliant man who suspected that his talent and pain were inextricably linked. “Roadrunner” admits he was probably right.

Roadrunner: A Movie About Anthony Bourdain
Rated R for raw profanity. Run time: 1 hour 58 minutes. In movie theaters.

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