Isn’t it just a rule of thumb that every movie about cooking needs a veteran actress that probably has an Oscar? It’s also got to be very lighthearted and must teach some great lessons. That’s perfectly fine by me, but I don’t see many distinguishable differences between a lot of these similar films. Still, the food always looks great and you’re almost always guaranteed a few great performances from some great stars. Also, don’t go see this film on an empty stomach, because you’re sure to regret it.
After finding great success in India cooking wonderful Indian cuisine, the Kazan family believes that they’re where they should be. It’s not until a mob rampages through town and burns down their restaurant, killing the families mother, that they realize that they need to move elsewhere. England was fine, but the French countryside calls their name and Papa (Om Puri) decides to set up shop in a small French village. His gifted son, Hassan (Manish Dayal) will be the head cook and they’ll bring Indian food to France. That’s all nice to think about, but the reality is that right across the street, is a French restaurant with a Michelin Star to their name.
Heading up the restaurant is Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), an uptight woman who makes starting a restaurant a living nightmare for the Kazan’s.Her sous-chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), catches the eye of Hassan and the two grow close in secret, not wanting to upset their bosses. As tensions rise, much like the heat in the kitchen, the stakes grow higher and the rivalry grows more intense. The Kazan family wants to educate the French people about Indian cuisine and spices, while Madame Mallory wants to earn another Michelin Star. All the while, Hassan wants to become a better chef and will do anything to achieve that goal, even if it upsets people in the process.
The Hundred Foot Journey is the latest film attempt to feed our appetites with gorgeous scenery, mouthwatering food, and an alright story to attempt to bring it all together. There is enough in this film to like, but it goes a bunch of different directions at the most random times and unfolds in a very tedious way. The latter half of the movie becomes some different film entirely and while it’s not bad on its own, it doesn’t necessarily fit in with the first half. All cheesy dialogue and random events aside, this film will feed your appetite and leave you hungry afterwards.
Fresh new faces Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon really excel in this film, both because of different traits that they exhibit. Dayal exudes a sort of confidence in his work that is rare to find, but he also has a sense of reality and how things work in the world and he has to adapt to his surroundings. Le Bon has a sense of pride in her work and her dedication that she shows is wonderful. She also knows that Dayal is a better cook, which complicates her feelings for him and adds some tension between the two. When they cook together, you can see the passion in their eyes for their food and each other. They certainly sell their relationship and standout among a cast of other greats.
Helen Mirren does some mighty fine work as the stern head of the Michelin Star restaurant. She is relentless for a reason and her hidden emotions reveal more about her character as the story goes along. You despise her at first, but she gets better s time goes along. Her French accent is almost as good as the food she serves up and she never waivers in her performance. Om Puri is easily the funniest part of this film, with all his contradictory sayings and his fueled rivalry with Mirren. More than that, he stands up for what he believes in and his insistence on opening people up to different cultures is very respectable. He’s as funny as he is sweet and his character is a joy to watch.
This film, while not nearly as appetizing as Chef, serves up a ton of delicious-looking French and Indian food that will have your stomach grumbling all throughout the film. Pair that exquisite looking food with the French countryside and you’re going to want to book the first flight to France. There’s also a lot of out-of-this-world food that’s made in Paris and the Parisian nightlife is explored a bit, adding a sort-of “cool factor” to the film. Then again, those portions of the film feel so out-of-place that they detracted me from the film as a whole and left me scratching my head.
Based off of the novel of the same name, The Hundred Foot Journey plays out in some pretty typical fashions when it comes to its character’s adversities and about half of the dialogue is either bland, or cheesy. My favorite line from the film was “Sometimes, brakes break for a reason.” I can’t wait to see that line used in real life, or in some other rom/com in the future. There are a dozen more of those lines that had me rolling my eyes and despite some great delivery from the characters, what happened afterwards always surprised me. On top of all that nonsense, this film is over two-hours and it really didn’t need that at all. Before it goes off on its wacky adventure in the third act, this film was pretty solid. I would have been fine with the 90-minutes, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
The Hundred Foot Journey did enough for me to enjoy it and I have no doubt that it’s going to appeal to an older demographic. Helen Mirren may be the biggest draw for this film, but I believe that Dayal outshines her and rightfully steals the show. Om Puri will also deliver those much-needed laughs after some bland spots in the film, which are parceled out evenly though the film. After seeing all the beautiful and exotic food, I had to go get a greasy burger to please my stomach. It did it’s job and satisfied my hunger completely and I only wish that this film could have done the same. There were just a few too many missing ingredients for my liking, but I still had a good time, as I’m sure many will.
The Hundred Foot Journey Trailer