Like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet, The Hundred-Foot Journey sets its charm offensive on the world’s grey-haired cinemagoers – hoping that veteran stars Helen Mirren and Om Puri will prove a tempting draw for viewers. However this battle of wits, cultures and cuisines will actually serve as a satisfying feast for more than its target audience.
After leaving their home in India, The Kadam Family (headed by Puri) arrive in a small French town with hopes of setting up a family restaurant. In doing so they enrage Madame Mallory (Mirren) – formerly the sole restaurateur of the village – starting an all out war pitting French cuisine against traditional Indian cooking. These enemies are brought together by young chef Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) who hopes to learn from the two styles of cooking.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is the perfect vehicle for filmmaker Lasse Hallström – the man behind such charmingly light melodramatic fare as Chocolat and Safe Haven. Brimming with uplifting energy, Hallström’s adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel is a feast for all the senses. There is a truly endearing air of charm and whimsy crafted through cinematographer Linus Sandgren’s sumptuously bright visuals – from deliciously coloured foods that will enliven the tastebuds to the idyllic sun-stroked French countryside and the picturesque antique architecture of the village. This old fashioned beauty almost makes Hallström’s film feel like a whimsical fairytale where gorgeous local towns are illuminated by bright fireworks and every dish looks like it was hand-crafted by the Gods.
This delicate grace carries on through the film’s performances. Mirren excels as the steely Madame whose heart warms throughout the narrative – both equally captivating whether delivering venom-drenched put-downs to her competition or going to help them in bleak times of need. The actress has a gorgeous chemistry with her charismatic co-star Puri. The veteran actor brings a delicate comic touch to the proceedings, excelling as the savvy Indian patriarch-cum-restaurateur adapting to his new European surroundings. The impressive Manish Dayal is also on-hand to significantly lower the average age of The Hundred-Foot Journey bringing a vitality and sex-appeal to this culinary fable.
Steven Knight’s adapted screenplay is brimming with good humour, effortless grace and predictable yet generally involving melodrama. It should be noted that perhaps Knight’s narrative could have benefited from being more concise with the film appearing to test a variety of endings before finally settling on one when viewer interest is dwindling at the somewhat baggy run-time. This narrative may be heading in various unsurprising directions, but when presented with such alluring visuals and charismatic performances it is unlikely to dent viewer enjoyment.
Produced by Hollywood titans Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, it is no surprise that The Hundred-Foot Journey is a thoroughly appealing dish. Showcasing the power of the tastebuds and food as a basis for human connection, this battle of cultures and cuisines is effortlessly charming and undeniably heartwarming.
Genre:Romance, Drama Distributor: eOne UK Release Date: 5th September 2014 (UK) Rating:PG Director:Lasse Halstrom Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah Running Time: 122 minutes
Many Thanks For Andrew for letting us use this review which was originally posted at his own site Culture Fix