Linda Cook review: Documentary shows joys, torment of the late Anthony Bourdain

Local News

I knew very little about the late Anthony Bourdain.

Of course, I knew who he was, and how he became a superstar with his book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.” And I was familiar with his “No Reservations” television series, as well as his bad-boy swagger and charm.

Now, after seeing the terrific “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” I wish I had paid more attention to the intellect and passion he shared with readers and viewers while he was alive.

I can count myself among his fans now.

A celebration of sorts, the film also is mournful: It doesn’t shy away from Bourdain’s suicide in 2018.

Raw and personal, the well-crafted film by Oscar winner Morgan Neville (please, watch his incredible “20 Feet From Stardom” documentary if you haven’t already) shows us Bourdain’s ability to turn a phrase, how he coped with celebrity, and his addictive nature.

Some of the story is told by Bourdain himself in archival clips. Other parts come from friends and those who worked with him, as well as his family members.

Interviews include chefs Eric Ripert and David Change. Some of the most compelling footage shows Bourdain falling in love with actress Asia Argento. He cannot stop talking about her, at one point obsessively raving about her parallel-parking skills.

Although foodies will appreciate this movie, it’s not really a show about food; rather, it’s about a talented, tormented man and the legacies he left behind.

One theme rings true, especially toward the end: If you see someone struggling, reach out to that person.

Very briefly, the camera focuses on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Here it is: 800-273-8255.

Please share it with that friend or family member who came to mind when you read about Bourdain. You may help save a life that otherwise would be taken too soon, just as Bourdain’s was.

3 ½ stars

Running time: Just a couple of minutes shy of two hours.

Rated: Unrated, but contains foul language and deaths of animals being slaughtered for food.

At Cinemark, Davenport.

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