The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Steven Knight
Based on: Richard C. Morais‘ novel
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Dillon Mitra, Aria Pandya
The Kadam family left India after a horrible fire to try and find new luck in Europe. The UK wasn’t so much their thing, so they head for France where they become stranded in a small village where they plan to open a restaurant, especially because son Hassan (Manish Dayal) has a gift for food. But the place they find is right across the street from the Michelin-starred restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Mallory is taken aback by her new neighbors but Hassan dreams of learning French cuisine.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is not an earth-shattering film but it is sweet and entertaining and despite being a film about cultural differences, it doesn’t hinge on stereotypes (the usual pitfall of movies of its type). I enjoyed it.
Of course the story of The Hundred-Foot Journey doesn’t hold many surprises – it is based on familiar templates after all, the rivalry turning to respect, the underdog winning. But even though it uses tropes, it doesn’t use stereotypes a lot, neither personal (Mallory isn’t totally humorless), nor racial/cultural.
Plus, it is told with a good sense of pacing and humor and there is quite a bit of warmth to it, even when it tackles the more difficult subjects. With that, it’s easy to overlook that the story didn’t treat Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) very well. But her arc was rather weird and not very satisfying for me.
The cast was wonderful. Nothing else is to be expected from Helen Mirren, wonderful actress that she is. But I was also very taken in by Manish Dayal. Since Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge I haven’t seen this mix of adorableness and adoringness, coupled with utter earnestness – so he can look straight in the camera and tell you the most cheesy lines, and you still believe every freaking word he says as you melt away. That’s a very rare quality.
Is it a must-see film? No, not really. But if you skip it, you’ll miss out on a couple of hours of sweet entertainment that will play your heartstrings with just the right amount of sensitivity to leave you refreshed afterwards.