First Trailer: The Inevitable New Doc ‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’

When Anthony Bourdain took his own life three years ago, it’s not an exaggeration to say that it actually felt like the end of an entire way of life.

A New York (by way of New Jersey) punk at heart, he came of age with The Ramones and Blondie as his friends and cultural heroes. Ultimately opting for an apron instead of a guitar, he ended up slinging cassoulet at the trendy but louche French restaurant Les Halles, dealing with the considerable rigors of life in a speed-fueled Gotham kitchen by living fast and dangerous, and sometimes even cheating death.

As the calendar ticked over to a new millennium, though, he picked up a pen to tell the story of how he’d somehow managed to survive it all (it was anything but pretty); and his best-selling, hair-raising page-turner Kitchen Confidential propelled him into an icon of the new global culture, zipping around the world and documenting it all like the poète décadent he’d obviously always meant to be. And though shows like No Reservations (2005 – 2012) and The Layover (2011 – 2013) were wildly popular and won him legions of devoted fans, it was his final series, Parts Unknown, which at last allowed us such an intimate peek into the soul of a brilliant, troubled, singular human being, through whose eyes we were able to comprehend this big, bad, ugly and beautiful world in a way that we’d never had…and yet now always will, because of him.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is the inevitable documentary account of his life – directed by Morgan Neville, arriving in theaters July 16 via Focus Features – and the first trailer will make anyone he’d ever touched in a significant way instantly weepy. Especially when we hear him presciently and chillingly predict, “So here’s a little pre-emptive truth telling: there’s no happy ending.”

The Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’ then kicks in, and we’re reminded how much the grit and growl of the late ’70s Bowery scene shaped the man that he would ultimately become. We see the skinny, tired, even wan looking young(ish) chef in a dimly lit kitchen, and then a montage of enthusiastic book signings, as Kitchen Confidential becomes a sensation. The trailer then cuts to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour introducing a segment about him as Parts Unknown (also on CNN) is about to debut – and suddenly he’s watching the sunset over the Sahara. An unparalleled journey, if ever.

Then trudging across some barren, snowy landscape, he turns to the camera with that irresistibly wry smile of his and asks, “Why am I here? Am I insane?” But as we all came to understand, he was there because he had to be – because he was searching for Anthony Bourdain out there, in order to be able to report back on what he’d seen and learned, and perhaps even help the rest of us find a little bit of ourselves.

He ended his life on June 8, 2018, and some of us have never really gotten over it. The onset of the insidious social media age had already caused an irreparable cultural rupture, and likely made it impossible for there to ever be another Anthony Bourdain. Though as Roadrunner is sure to remind us…there really never could be, anyway.

Images courtesy of CNN / Focus Features

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