The Hundred-Foot Journey – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Juhi Chawla, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah as Mansur, Farzana Dua Elahe, Rohan Chand, Dillon Mitra, Michel Blanc
In cinemas September 5th
After being forced to flee their native land after being burned out of their home following a political uprising a family of Indian restaurateurs find themselves in a tiny French Village. Impressed by the ingredients available locally and finding premises vacant they set about opening another eatery specialising in fine Indian food. However just a hundred-feet across the road there is a Michelin starred restaurant run by widow Madame Mallory (Mirren) and she is not happy in the least at the thoughts of this new enterprise. After she attempts to sabotage their opening night the two restaurants go to war much to the disdain of Hassan (Dayal) the middle son of he family and main cook in the restaurant who desires to learn the secrets of cooking fine French cuisine.
When some of Madame Mallory’s staff graffiti the restaurant and attempt to burn it down Hassan is injured and Madame Mallory finds herself thawing towards the family. Realising Hassan’s potential she offers him a job in order to secure a second Michelin star and the exposure leads to amazing career opportunities for the aspiring culinary superstar but to pursue them will mean leaving a blossoming romance and his family’s bosom.
Do not go into this film hungry. It is food porn of the highest order and from the beginning we are exposed to sumptuous dish after sumptuous dish. The title may be a literal reference to the distance between the two restaurants but it is also a reference to the cultural divide between the warring factions. While this premise has been done before here it has a warmth and depth that is sometimes lacking. All the actors give wonderful performances and it ticks along at a good pace ensuring it never gets boring. There is perhaps too much talk of Michelin stars and it loses its way near the end when Hassan is presented with amazing job offers and up sticks to Paris for a period but thankfully it finds its way back and ultimately leaves the audience satisfied at the conclusion.
Although there is nothing new here this gentle tale is humorous and heart-warming. It is the movie equivalent of comfort food and leaves you feeling sated if starving. The food looks amazing throughout and if you don’t find yourself craving a curry afterwards then you weren’t paying proper attention.