My takeaway on this film is that it’s a eulogy mainly about the effect Bourdain had on his friends. Profound disappointment ensues as it digresses into a maudlin confessional and outpouring of grief. It’s all about their issues regarding his death with the excuse that he possessed a mercurial personality. There is never enough of the story-telling his friends rave about. There is never enough of his narration, his wit and acerbic renditions of the human condition a la Bourdain.
First and foremost, the film opens with much younger Bourdain explaining that he wants no fuss when he dies. None. So why did his friends and co-workers go so far in doing exactly what their friend explicitly said he didn’twant done?
If there is a boat to be missed, Bourdain’s friends are still running in a fog to catch it.
Unnecessary sensationalizing, such as the eating raw snake clip, which was emphasized but the reason he did so not fully explained. Sure, Bourdain loved risk and danger, but he also had enormous respect for cultures and the foods attached to cultures. Much of what he ate would cause us to gag, but what we’d think of as weirdness, he ate as a sign of respect. He also possessed, and was possessed by, unquenchable curiosity.
This was typified, and again not explained, with a brief shot that showed the horror and misery on his face when he joined in on a boar hunt and used the pike he’d been given. Nothing was said of how the incident sickened him, no insertion of his preface of how people buy packages of meat and never take a moment to think about the fact that it came from a living animal, or the many people around the world, who must kill living creatures in order to survive. He joined in the hunt to give respect to his host and fulfill an obligation to comprehend what we all take for granted.
Finally, the film screams for editing. Getting rid of the tedious f-bombs would save twenty minutes. There are endless repetitions and renditions of their friend’s complex personality and their discombobulated inability to understand why they couldn’t do anything to help his downward emotional spiral.
What I did enjoy about this film was how his writing ability was celebrated. Few writers have his brilliance for cutting to the quick with a few words. Saying so much with economy is a gift. So was Anthony Bourdain.
M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML