The Hundred-Foot Journey: Film Review – Perfectly blending menus and cultures

If you are a foodie, you definitely have a must-watch "foodie movies" list. Some of the movies listed might be Julie and Julia, Ratatouille and Chef, among others. The list is also sure to have director Lasse Hallström’s film, Chocolat. In the Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp-starrer, the lead pair awaken each other’s passion. And all this development takes place in a chocolate shop in a small French village. Sounds yummy?

The good news is that the director revisits the ‘Chocolat‘ territory. And this time, he offers a satisfying main course meal – The Hundred-Foot Journey.

A feel-good saga, this movie narrates the story of The Kadams, an immigrant family. They have been running a restaurant business in Mumbai before it was destroyed in the riots of the 1990s. Soon, they migrate and settle in the picturesque village of Saint Anton Noble Val, in the southern France region.

Papa Kadam (Om Puri) opens a rambunctious, Bollywood-esque eatery, Maison Mumbai. The only issue is it’s right across the classic, Michelin starred restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur. His plans upset Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of the French restaurant. Soon, a cold war breaks out between Papa and Madam Mallory. And they both try winning over each other. Amongst the flared heat between the two cultures, a relationship develops between Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) and Madam Mallory’s sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). When Madam Mallory learns about the remarkably talented Hassan, she hires him, like any other smart restaurant owner. This helps her gain the 2nd Michelin star she has been wanting to win for her restaurant. That, in turn, opens a new world of international cooking for Hassan. Will Hassan’s newly achieved success get the better of him? Or whether he finds happiness where his roots are forms the rest of the story.

The movie is like an appealing cinematic main course meal for those seeking respite from the usual dose of special effects and boisterous, masaledaar stories.

The film is a screen adaptation of Richard C Morais’s novel of the same name. Produced by Steven Speilberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake, the movie features a stellar starcast. Helen Mirren effortlessly portrays Madam Mallory. The classic expressions she delivers are simply amazing. She comes across as a cold person who is concealingly warm and sweet by nature. Om Puri as Papa Kadam adds the perfect depth to the character. The emotional feud between these characters is priceless. The best way to describe their relation is unpretentious and funny. Hassan Kadam’s character seems to be tailor-made for Manish Dayal. Charlotte Le Bon as Marguerite is like a perfectly ripe strawberry – sweet and sour. Though Juhi Chawla has limited screen time, her presence is felt throughout the film. The rest of the characters were handpicked for the respective roles, helping in the development of the story.

Steven Knight adapted the screenplay from the novel. He ensured that each element that made this special treat gained the right prominence and none overshadowed each other. AR Rahman’s lively score, along with the brilliant cinematography by Linus Sandgren made The Hundred-Foot Journey a passionate affair. Not an old, tested marriage.

The only drawback of the movie was that it was very long. Running about two hours, the movie impedes when Hassan is employed at a grand restaurant in Paris.

But overall, The Hundred-Foot Journey simultaneously satisfies the craving of gastronomes and cinema lovers.

Why should you watch this film?

The Hundred-Foot Journey is not just about food. It serves more than that. Instead of being just another movie about food, it nourishes the craving of movie-lovers in an entertaining way. The movie emphasizes the fact that good food is served with emotional attachments. 

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