Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Epic veggie fail, but Mirren is as tasty as ever
No surprises, but lots to savor in fun foodie film feast Hundred-Foot Journey

If you've seen the preview trailer for The Hundred-Foot Journey, you've seen the movie. If you've seen any foodie film in recent history in which cross-cultural food becomes a metaphor for spicing up life and/or romance—Chef, Chocolat, Babette's Feast, Like Water For Chocolate—you've seen this movie.

Basically, nothing happens here that's not telegraphed in the first fifteen minutes, or so, besides which every major plot twist and punchline has already been revealed in that trailer.

And yet, having said all that, The Hundred-Foot Journey has its easygoing charms. Thoroughly engaging performances are provided by a mixed cast of veterans and newcomers, led by the always sublime Helen Mirren and Indian national treasure Om Puri.

The location is irresistible, a sun-drenched corner of the South of France where an upstart family-run Indian eatery sets up shop across the street from a venerable French restaurant.

And there's plenty of good-looking food (of course), from haute cuisine to vivid massala-spiced Indian dishes to simple French country cooking, presented with enough relish to make it all go down smoothly.

Scripted by Steven Knight from the novel by Richard C. Morais, the film is directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

Fleeing political prising in India, the large and boisterous Kadam family is searching for a new place to put down roots when their decrepit vehicle breaks down in a charming French village. Widower Papa (Puri) buys a large stone farmhouse for the family's next culinary enterprise, with grown son, Hassan (Manish Dayal) in the kitchen.
Charlotte le Bon and Manish Dayal

The only catch? It's right across the road from the elegant one-star Michelin restaurant of Madame Mallory (Mirren). Papa insists the town is big enough for both classical French and traditional Indian food, but a cold war quickly escalates between the two establishments.

Meanwhile, Hassan sparks with Mme. Mallory's young sous chef, Marguerite (the lovely and spirited Charlotte Le Bon), who recognizes in him the soul of a fellow food artist. (Read more in this week's Good Times.)
Are we hungry yet?

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