"Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain" Just Dropped, And It's A Deeply Emotional Ride

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is an emotionally charged and intimate behind-the-scenes look at how the beloved chef went from relative anonymity to world-renowned fame.

Bourdain holding a cheesesteak sandwich close to the camera
Focus Features

Bourdain was found dead on June 8, 2018, after killing himself in Strasbourg, France. He was found by friend and fellow chef Éric Ripert (who appears in Roadrunner) while they were working on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

Ripert and Bourdain enjoying a picnic lunch outdoors, sitting on a bench

When asked about that day in the film, Ripert simply responds, "I do not talk about that."

Focus Features

And Ripert is just one of the many close friends and family members from Bourdain's life who spend the doc reflecting on their time with him.

Bourdain and Ottavia Busia sitting outdoors in the sun with family

Filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) interviews people like Bourdain's ex-wives (Nancy Putkoski and Ottavia Busia), crew members from his show, fellow chefs like David Chang and Ripert, and friends like artist David Choe and musician Josh Homme.

Focus Features

But if you're looking for a documentary about Bourdain's entire life, this is not it. The film starts around the time when his career took off (right after the success of his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential) and follows through with some deeply fascinating looks at his private life and behind the scenes of Parts Unknown.

Bourdain working in the kitchen of his restaurant in NY

There's even footage of him actually writing Kitchen Confidential early in the film (above, right).

Focus Features

The doc uses a mix of talking heads and archival footage — including some of Bourdain's home movies and never-aired footage from his show — to tackle the question, "Why?"

Artist David Choe painting a portrait of Bourdain, who sits across the room from him

At one point, Choe (above, painting a portrait of Bourdain) says, "I know how hard it must've been for him to reach out to someone and be like, 'Hey man, I'm not doing well.'"

Focus Features

There are both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories throughout the film, particularly when interviewees revisit their feelings about Bourdain's death. But, ultimately, it's an insider's look at how the enigmatic chef tackled food, travel, love, humanity, and life itself.

Bourdain about to eat a bowl of noodles, sitting on a small chair in a city street in Asia

His friends and family talking about their experiences and lives with Bourdain is a constant reminder of how well liked and loved he was.

Focus Features

Interestingly, as the documentary presents it, Bourdain seemed to transfer his (notorious) former drug addiction into an addiction for travel. And it's made clear how much that affected him.

<div><p>"Travel isn't always pretty. You go away; you learn; you get scarred, marked, changed in the process," Bourdain's voice says in the doc.</p></div><span> Focus Features</span>

"Travel isn't always pretty. You go away; you learn; you get scarred, marked, changed in the process," Bourdain's voice says in the doc.

Focus Features

And if you're wondering, the film does touch on Bourdain's relationship with Asia Argento, though from the perspective of his close friends and family. Argento was not interviewed for the doc.

Bourdain riding in a red convertible sports car with Asia Argento

Speaking with Variety, Neville said, “I just felt like at the end, I wasn’t going to get closer to him by talking to her because she has her own very clear point of view about things. She says the same thing in every interview. I felt like once you start to get into the details of the complications of the relationship, it just begs 10 more questions. And those questions don’t give you any insight into him.”

Focus Features

If you're familiar with Bourdain's life, and a fan, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain will provide you with some joyous stories you've probably never heard before and a sense of catharsis. And if you're not as familiar, it'll make you want to learn more about him. Bourdain's death was a tragedy, but the people in Roadrunner don't want you to remember his life that way.

Focus Features

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain opens in theaters today, July 16. And you can watch the official trailer here:

The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).