To many, Anthony Bourdain was a hero. He traveled the world meeting interesting people and telling there stories over a conversation at a dinner table. A gifted writer, chef, friend, and lifelong romantic, there was some sort of intangible quality that allowed him to relate to so many from many different walks of life. When Anthony committed suicide in 2018, it sent shockwaves around the world.
The documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain combines real footage with interviews from friends. Early on, the director, Morgan Neville, establishes that Anthony was not only a lover of good food, but also of literature and cinema. Clips from some of his favorite movies, like Apocalypse Now are expertly woven in with clips from his own television programs. He was a man who seemed restless. A man who was constantly chasing something and even said himself that he was happiest when life was like a movie.
Make no mistake, Roadrunner is no hagiography. It showcases Bourdain’s flaws just as much as his strengths. That chase and restlessness, while relatable, can drive one to make manic choices, to isolate people you love, and become more controlling in an effort to make the chaos and suffering in the world make sense. In that way, Roadrunner tells the story of one man, yes, but also causes one to reflect at how we personally deal with the inner roadrunner. Throughout the documentary, his friends affirm that despite his flaws, Bourdain “had so much light around him.” Maybe he forgot that towards the end. Maybe we all forget that about ourselves sometimes.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is now streaming on HBO Max.