Today is my birthday and I spent part of it going to see The Hundred-Foot Journey with my mother and sister Heather. Set in a small village in the south of France, the Steven Spielberg- and Oprah Winfrey-produced movie follows the story of Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a culinary protégé who travels to France with his displaced Indian family in the hopes of settling down and opening an Indian restaurant in the French countryside. However, when the Kadam family purchases property one hundred feet away from a restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) a heated clash between the two establishments and cultures, until undeniable chemistry causes the Madame to take gifted young chef Hassan under her wing.
Although the film is billed as a drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey offers enough laugh-out-loud moments to appease rom-com fans. While Mirren’s snobby, uptight portrayal of Mallory delivers everything you would expect from the Academy Award-winning actress; Om Puri’s Papa Kadam steals the show as the family’s stubborn yet sweet patriarch. The Hundred-Foot Journey also marks the Hollywood debut of Montreal-born actress Charlotte Le Bon, whose portrayal of Marguerite is sweet and refreshing.
At its core, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a movie about the love of good food, good living and one man’s passion for cooking. Despite some pacing issues, it’s still a satisfying alternative to the violent, big-budget blockbusters that flood the silver screen every summer.
But The Hundred-Foot Journey portrays a gentle life. One where understanding, decency, love, and the cooking of really amazing omelets can drives crabby old women to tears of joy. The rural fantasy demands the triumph of small-town values over decadent Paris, seen here as a nightmare of stress, wine-guzzling, and cellphones and, most horrifically, the trendy scourge of authentic food.
Of course, The Hundred-Foot Journey is predictable, but that’s like looking at a menu at your favorite restaurant and ordering the same meal you’ve had dozens of times before. The familiar can be just as good if presented the right way. When Mirren is involved, all the characters are elevated to the highest quality.
If you enjoy cooking shows, love cooking yourself, or simply want a gentle movie with a happy ending, then go see The Hundred-Foot Journey. With so many layers of passion it’s a rich and creamy treat.