In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own escalate to all out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), combine with his mysteriously delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Mme. Mallory cannot ignore. At first Mme. Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, with marjoram and madras, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one boy’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a movie that soars! It breaks down cultural walls and demonstrates how the spirit of humankind can rise to life’s challenges. The movie is based on the best-selling book by Richard C. Morais, and you know it’s going to be good when the movie introduction includes both Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. The pair toss food analogies around, including Spielberg’s comment that director Lasse Hallstrom brought all the ingredients together to make a powerful movie. And powerful it is.
The Kadam family suffers a great loss when Indian rebels unhappy with an election go on a burning rampage and destroy their home. The fire takes the mother’s life; this was the woman who taught her son Hassan, a gifted chef, how to cook. Papa (Om Puri) decides to leave India in search of a new future. Their van loses its brakes in France; they survive despite a close call and afterward are given a nice meal by local woman Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). Sparks fly between Marguerite and Hassan before Papa, despite opposition from some family members, determines to buy a restaurant just 100 feet away from a respected French restaurant. Enter the restaurant’s owner, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who does not cater to the idea at all. She and Papa soon are trying to outdo each other. Marguerite and Hassan form a bond thanks to their desires to be a chef, but the competition between them is fierce.
The movie features an interesting story, romance, excellent performances, and the strong message that, despite cultural differences, people are more alike than they realize. The humor is terrific, too. In one scene, Hassan’s photo appears in a magazine; his father sees the picture of his serious-faced son and says he looks like a terrorist. Another funny moment occurs when Hassan greets a guest to his newly opened restaurant as the French sometimes do, with a kiss on each cheek! When Hassan’s brother learns he is using hay in a recipe, he wants to know, “What’s he doing, cooking for a horse?”
If it is true as one character in the movie states that “food is memories,” then this film, which features several great cooking scenes, will produce wonderful memories for any viewer. The delightful movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” has earned our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for ages twelve and above. Forgive us for sharing a food analogy like Spielberg and Oprah did: This is an…mmm…mmm good movie!