Staff member
Feb 14, 2021
Opening this weekend in the Cinema

JULY 16 — 19 AND
JULY 23 — 26

“Roadrunner” is an apt descriptor for Anthony Bourdain, the former heroin addict-chef-turned-bestselling writer-turned-beloved television personality. His globetrotting culinary journeys became a hallmark of his persona: open-minded, curious, respectful and interested in different cultures and the cuisines they produced. The shadow of Bourdain’s tragic suicide hangs over this loving but no-punches-pulled documentary tribute directed by Morgan Neville, but Bourdain’s essential decency and infectious spirit of adventure shine through. In the end, we’re left with a sense that Bourdain was far more complicated than devotees and close friends realized—but this is surely true of anyone who seems to be actually living life in front of a camera, not just acting a part. That’s why Bourdain’s unexpected death hit so hard. Roadrunner doesn’t shy away from detailing the man’s excesses, but it also reflects his advocacy for often marginalized or ignored people. Bourdain wrested cuisine away from elitists and snobs, and gave it back to the people who actually cook (and eat) to live. In doing so, he used food to highlight our common humanity and break down barriers. He was our intrepid guide and pal. And he recognized the irony of railing against celebrity chefs even as he became famous in his own right. One of the strengths of this film is that it charts Bourdain’s personal growth, even as it leads to its inexorable conclusion. Like his portrait of Mr. Rogers in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Neville gets moviegoers deep into the heart of his subject, and even those unfamiliar with Anthony Bourdain’s work and legacy will come away from Roadrunner with abiding admiration, affection, and more than a twinge of regret for the loss of “Tony.”

(Rated R for profanity and mature themes.)

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