As a long-time fan of Anthony Bourdain’s work, I was immediately interested in Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. From his career as a chef turned author turned TV star, Bourdain was no stranger to success. So what happened? Why did the world lose him before his time? This documentary does a beautiful job at telling that story and shining a light on the loneliness that fame and success can create.
In a story that begins in 1999, when the then-43-year-old Bourdain shocked the culinary world by revealing long-held restaurant secrets, director Morgan Neville follows the quixotic path of the chef’s career, exploring the route he took to become the beloved star and award-winning creator of numerous food and travels series for television. From haute cuisine in Rome, Melbourne, and Tokyo to danger in Port-au-Prince, Kinshasa, and Beirut, Bourdain pushes himself and his crew past their limits, exploring culture and cuisine with his restless curiosity. Then, at the height of his fame, he turns his seemingly inexhaustible energy to domestic life with his wife and child and calling attention to cultural, social, and political injustices at home and abroad — before shocking the world by dying by suicide at the age of 61.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Trailer
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like
Neville does an incredible job here at blending together previously unseen footage of Bourdain with interviews with his friends and family – along with using Bourdain’s own voiceovers. It’s honestly a bit eerie. It’s almost as if Bourdain is telling you his intimate life story from beyond the grave.
The film begins with Bourdain’s younger self, starting out as a chef and moving on to exploring the world. Early on in his career, he makes it clear that while he may be known for cooking, he is more interested in exploring culture, society and politics around the globe.
And from there, Roadrunner does a beautiful job at weaving together behind-the-scenes footage collected from his travels over the years. We weave in and out of his relationships, the love that he had for the women in his life, the bond he had with his daughter, and the journeys that left him feeling alone. As the minutes unravel, you feel like you can truly see Bourdain, both his brilliance and his madness.
Fame wasn’t easy for Bourdain to digest. He was lonely despite all his successes, and he struggled with his mental health, experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. He often joked about hurting himself, making jokes out of his depression. It’s a sad story, but it is not one without hope. Bourdain’s story is a reminder that mental health issues affect everyone, and it shouldn’t be taboo to talk about them.
Roadrunner does a fantastic job at peeling back the layers of the man behind the public figure we all knew. And it also does a beautiful job at shining light on the loneliness that can come with fame and success, while also highlighting just how overwhelmingly difficult it is to manage mental health. And while Bourdain may have not been able to find happiness in his personal life, Bourdain’s legacy will live forever through this documentary – and through all of us who were inspired by the content he created.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Review: