Bourdain doc shows man in search of self

In a trailer just released for Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, the viewer sees a man whose life was simultaneously all about food and not about food at all.

The story of celebrity chef-turned-travel documentarian Bourdain, who died by suicide in 2018 at 61, is billed as “an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at how an anonymous chef became a world-renowned cultural icon.”

Directed by Oscar winner Morgan Neville, who helmed films including the Mister Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Roadrunner reminds us of a Bourdain whose hair had not yet greyed, a chef who wrote Kitchen Confidential.

The doc captures Bourdain as he transitioned into a different role in which he wandered the world with the shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown, seeking tastes, thrills and revelations about life.

Bourdain’s voice in the trailer offers a hint of the tragedy to come: “You’re probably going to find out about it anyway, so here’s a little pre-emptive truth-telling,” he says. “There’s no happy ending.”

“It was almost never about food. It was about Tony learning how to be a better person,” Momofuku restaurant group founder David Chang says in the trailer.

Chang, who revealed his bipolar I diagnosis last year in his memoir, Eat a Peach, has previously expressed regret over Bourdain’s death. (“It wasn’t supposed to happen to him,” Chang told People last summer. “That was supposed to happen to me. He was supposed to hold it together for all of us.”)

We see Bourdain trudging through snow, jumping off a cliff, digging his toes into the never-ending sand of the Sahara Desert.

Then there are the other voices.

“Reality was never going to live up to exactly how he pictured it.”

“He was always rushing to get into the scene, rushing to get out of the scene, to go somewhere next even if he had nowhere to go.”

And finally, again from Bourdain: “You might ask, how is this food-related? F— if I know.”

Roadrunner hits theatres and streaming services July 16.

— Los Angeles Times

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