“If your food is anything like your music, I suggest you turn it down,” says Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) to Hassan (Manish Dayal) and his Papa (Om Puri) who’ve just opened an Indian restaurant right across the road from her celebrated French restaurant in the dramatic film The Hundred-Foot Journey.
Hassan Kadam is a great cook in India and loves cooking for his family’s restaurant. But after a political election goes bad and his family’s livelihood is burned to the ground by an angry mob, the Kadam family flee India in search of somewhere to start anew. They settle for the small, quaint village Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. It seems the perfect place to open their new Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai, except for the fact that the property is located a hundred feet from the most popular classic French restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur. Nonetheless convinced this is the perfect new beginning for his family, Papa Kadam buys the property and he and his family begin building and redecorating for the grand opening.
When Mallory realizes she has new competition, she sets out to make business and life for the Kadams extremely difficult, which leads to an all-out war between her and Papa Kadam. This makes life even more difficult for Hassan who has fallen hard for one of Madame’s chef’s, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), who was the very first person in the village to both help and befriend the Kadam family when they arrived in town.
Determined to create a peace between Madame Mallory and his Papa, Hassan uses his culinary gifts and creative genius to try to win over Mallory and show her that he too has a true passion for creating exquisite cuisine.
Lush and sweet, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a charming, sentimental and obvious film with solid performances and a sadly predictable script.
Helen Mirren gives another flawless performance as Madame Mallory, a seemingly cold, calculating, and snobbish woman who strives for absolute perfection in her kitchen and is determined to rid the village of the Kadam family but who starts to have a change of heart and mind when her feud with the family leads to unforeseen consequences. The only problem is there isn’t anything new for Mirren here. She delivered a very similar but much stronger performance in the film The Queen.
Om Puri gives the second best performance in the film as Papa Kadam, the tough but loving head of the family who has complete and absolute faith and belief in Hassan’s ability to be the greatest Indian cook of all time. His scenes opposite Mirren are the best in the film. Manish Dayal gives a rather bland and unimpressive performance as Hassan, the ‘good son’ who wants to be there for his family and help make his father’s new restaurant a success but has even deeper dreams of branching out and becoming a world renowned chef. The scenes with Dayal and Marguerite, the young French beauty who he’s head–over-heels, lack any real sense of feeling or emotion.
The look and design of the film is lovely, capturing the beauty and quaintness of the French village and its inhabitants.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the film is the painfully predictable script which is guaranteed to have the audience knowing and correctly guessing – with little effort – the outcome of ALL the plots and sub-plots. This leaves no surprises or twists and makes it impossible for the audience to connect or really care about the characters on the screen.
Overall, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a pleasant but insipid film which is sure to have the audience craving a movie with more heart, substance, and surprises as they exit the theater.
The Hundred-Foot Journey opens in theaters on August 8, 2014 and is rated PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality.
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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