Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain Documentary 'Roadrunner' Sets Release Date - Variety

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is a personal, honest, albeit loving look at and into the life of Anthony Bourdain and all the various detours it took, charting his journey from chef to writer to acclaimed TV host, as told by his closest friends, the people he worked with, and his family.


After an opening credits sequence that runs through the years leading up to Bourdain’s career as a chef, Roadrunner begins its sprint in 1999 after he’s secured a deal to write a book about his experiences in the restaurant world that would end up being Kitchen Confidential, the New York Times bestseller that would put Bourdain on the talk show circuit, talking to the likes of Oprah and David Letterman, and quickly kickstarting his ascent towards celebrity. As a result, in preparation for the writing of his second novel, called A Chef’s Tour, he was approached by a TV producer duo who asked him if he wanted to make a series in tandem with the upcoming novel, thus forming a partnership that would spawn multiple shows, win several Emmys and begin Bourdain’s over a decade long tenure on television screens everywhere and Bourdain’s status as a world-famous traveler.


  Compared to documentarian Morgan Neville’s wonderful last film Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, this is a significantly different challenge, Bourdain’s suicide is still a recent event in the public eye and I’m certain a fresh wound for those who knew him. It’s difficult to watch a feature-length charting of basically someone’s whole life, knowing that it’s going to end so inevitably, suddenly, and sadly, but Roadrunner succeeds in showing us Bourdain in totality, his flaws, idiosyncrasies, fascinations, a headfirst leap into the world of jiu-jitsu later in life comes to mind, along with the testimony of his loved ones all striving to answer the question: We know who he was on-screen, so who was he off of it? 


Roadrunner mirrors Bourdain’s own frequent departures from home and journeys to parts unknown, taking us back and forth from what he did on television and his home life, his relationships, his raising of his daughter. We see a conversation between Bourdain and his friend Josh Homme, where they discuss the paradox of wanting to return home when they’re away, but immediately wanting to get back on the road when they get home. It’s one of the more purely tragic moments in Roadrunner and incisively implemented by Neville and co., getting right to the heart of the movie’s namesake and just how reflective it was of Bourdain’s own everyday life.


After a TV episode of his show shot in Beirut goes awry, Bourdain talks about his faltering belief in the power of the table at which we eat and share, but Roadrunner, however unknowingly, becomes a testament to that power. Nearly every interview in the film is organized across a table, where these deeply personal details and anecdotes are exchanged. Neville operates with a wealth of outtakes from his TV shows and all the excess footage from someone who had cameras rolling on their every moment for nearly 20 years straight, but it’s these genuine moments with those who knew Bourdain the arrangement fosters that cut the deepest. 


 It’s another strong documentary from Morgan Neville that like Won’t You Be My Neighbor? chronicles an icon who forged their legend on television but seeks to give us an understanding of who they were off of it. It’s a celebration of someone who guided viewers around the world and a fond farewell to someone who left us far too soon. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain lands in theaters on July 16th.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021) - IMDb

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Comments are closed.