Reel Guys: The Hundred-Foot Journey is just a big helping of comfort film
By Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys
SYNOPSIS: Hundred-Foot Journey is a feel-good movie about an Indian family who moves to a small town in France to open a restaurant. Across the street is a Michelin-starred French eatery run with an iron fist by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Cultures and personalities clash, but soon Hassan Kadam’s (Manish Dayal) talent in the kitchen leads him on a journey. First he crosses the hundred feet between his father’s (Om Puri) restaurant to Madame Mallory’s kitchen, then to Paris and ultimately to his real passion.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, the last time director Lasse Hallström went all Food Network on us the result was the 2000 bonbon Chocolat, a comic story with a bittersweet edge. He’s revisiting similar ground here, mixing gastroporn, good old-fashioned romance and cross-cultural farce. Despite its predictability, The Hundred-Foot Journey’s collection of characters keeps things lively and amusing and the food looks so good you’ll wish the movie was in Smell-O-Vision. I thought it was an enjoyable film about passion; the passion for food, passion for culture but most of all, passion for life. What did you think?
Mark: Richard, I wouldn’t use the word passion to describe this movie. It was full of warmth, and it glowed from the sun-dappled shots of the French countryside to the sun-dappled shots of the delicious food to the sun-dappled shots of Helen Mirren’s profile contemplating Septuagenarian sex. But passion? If this movie about food were a food, it would be a nice custard, served at room temperature.
RC: Perhaps there wasn’t passion of the Gordon Ramsey style, but I thought the characters, particularly the young leads, brought enthusiasm not only to their romance but to their rivalry as well. As Marguerite Charlotte Le Bon moves beyond simply playing the romantic counterpart and puts herself and her dream of being a chef first. I liked that she was spunkier than you often see in a movie like this. Ditto Mirren. As Madame comes to respect and then like her new neighbors, her ice queen demeanor slowly melts, allowing the actress to subtly reveal layers of character.
MB: None of them impressed me Richard, not even Mirren. The one actor that did blow me away was the great Indian actor Om Puri, whose name even sounds like a fine dish, served with a side of raita. I didn’t find much that surprised me in the script either, although I wasn’t expecting the young Indian chef to cross the road and work at Mirren’s classical French restaurant . Whether or not you see him as a contemptible sell-out or not probably depends on your attitude towards fusion cuisine.
RC: Tone wise this movie reminded me of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It may not be the most original movie to hit screens this summer, but I liked the characters and left the theatre hungry for more.
MB: I just left the theatre hungry. The vindaloo has the best part.