Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Review – Entertaining, Poignant, Fantastical

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Roadrunner: A film about Anthony Bourdain, the centerpiece screening at the AFI DOCS Film Festival, presents an entertaining documentary that folds in enough spice to create a perfect taste of the former Chef turned globetrotting culinary cultural connoisseur.

Bourdain provides the initial voice over allowing the viewer a glimpse of himself, right up front. That seems to be the way with Bourdain, it seems that he didn’t hold back or mince words, he was bold, in his cooking style, his writing and as he grew into this international traveling aficionado, a daring risk taker.


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Roadrunner begins with this breathtaking visual of Bourdain, in the contemplative horizon stare that seemed to be a signature of his later segments, watching a sunset over the warm brown tones of the Sahara Desert.

Interwoven with interviews, from friends, producers, wives, and artists, who believed they were close to him, felt his loss and felt the sting of his decision.

The documentary features his rise to a New York Times bestselling author with his intimate memoir Kitchen Confidential, a mix of professional, shocking, drug fueled and the rush of the culinary life. The wild success of the book catapulted him into his next act.

Approached by producers Lydia Tagalia and Christopher Collins, who lured the possibility a great project. They began their globetrotting journey with Anthony Bourdain.


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As the old adage says, travel makes or breaks friendships, and as we see Bourdain, although difficult, had a magnetic, kid like personality, his early pre-celeb days, were all about attaining some level of normalcy, and when than arrived realizing the ideal didn’t live up to the expectation.

The audience also understands Bourdain is candid about his former Heroin habit, this provides the lens to see his choices throughout the documentary are fueled by this passionate addictive-behavior.

He became addicted to travel, addicted to the ideal of “normalcy,” addicted to being addicted to these emotions, addicted to the pursuit of finding a missing piece that from the outside looking in was manufactured to be the one unattainable missing piece in the puzzle, something for him to grasp onto so he could feel that he was missing something and had to find it to be whole.

Travel began to wear on him, and celebrity began to take over. Traveling 250 days a year, left little time to be the ideal dad, the ideal husband, the ideal normal middle-aged man happily playing weekend chef living in the suburbs. These became the failures that gnawed at him, in the deep night. His failures, overblown in his own mind, stalked him, like a madman, whispering in the shadows, sure of the hunt, sure of the take down, waiting for the kill.


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Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain highlights and memorializes him as a cultural culinary icon, actually normal with flaws, allowing others to join him on these wild adventures to exotic locals, have the courage to push the boundaries, when his armchair companions wouldn’t, and come up in triumph.

Bourdain committed suicide and as the film ends, the restaurant where it all started became a shrine to him. The outpouring of support from strangers, armchair travelers, culinary enthusiasts, purveyor of the exotic laid flowers and hung signs thanking him for touching their lives. Those who knew him, personally, were shocked saddened and each had that catatonic stare, for a moment, when they searched for the words through the deep loss.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is sad, poignant, entertaining, a big, wild, fantastical ride. See it.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.


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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Release Date: July 16, 2021 (wide).

Runtime: 118minutes.

Director: Morgan Neville.

Producer: Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers.

Cast: Anthony Bourdain, Ottavia Bourdain, Lydia Tenaglia, Christopher Collins, Eric Ripert, Alison Mosshart, Josh Homme, Doug Quint, David Choe, Helen M. Cho, David Chang, Kimberly Witherspoon, Tom Vitale, Iggy Pop.

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