A movie as self-contained as it is self-satisfied, John Wells' Burnt is a guilty pleasure that pleads innocence, and purges most of the pleasure in the process. It opens with a series of scenes that suggest a higher purpose for itself, if only modestly - a story of redemption, or a tribute to good food - before supplanting this mild ambition with a narrative course that pays only the limpest lip service to any of these themes. Its true nature is uncovered, though who'd not have guessed it: Burnt may be cloistered and contained, but it operates mainly on a much more meta plain than its straightforward plot, operating as a vehicle for its A-list actors, probably with both eyes on securing several Oscar nominations. This is the movie's sole identifiable intent, and it masters it perfectly, if predictably, in its overall scheme, since it never lets its desperation show through; its rather lacking in flavour, however, as Wells perhaps takes too soft (though not subtle) an approach in his direction. But since Burnt is a movie about the people in it, isn't it best to judge it on their contribution? In that spirit: it's a typically male chauvinistic piece, and the males herein never overcome the burden that places upon their parts; the females provide what flavour this movie possesses, from a reliably fresh, unforced performance from Sienna Miller, to a true delicacy in the form of Emma Thompson, once again reinforcing the argument that any movie without her in it is a lesser movie for that fact.