The Hundred-Foot Journey
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
After seeing the promos for The Hundred-Foot Journey, I had long ago decided I wanted to see the film. Events tried to conspire against me, but I was determined and finally, last weekend, I was able to catch the movie based on the 2010 novel by Richard C. Morais in the theaters.
The movie is centered around Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), the second oldest son of the family and the one showing most promise in the arts of food. The Kadams own a successful restaurant in Mumbai and Hassan has a natural talent for food, one that has been carefully cultivated by his mother (Juhi Chawla). Rebellion erupts after a recent election and rioters descend upon the Kadams' restaurant. The restaurant burns to the ground taking Mama Kadam with it.
The Kadams decide to begin a new life in Europe. Papa (Om Puri) decides that they should make a try in France. While entering France, the brakes on Papa's van fail, forcing the family to stop their journey. A young woman named Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) offers them assistance in finding a mechanic, food and a place to rest. A sous chef in an upscale restaurant, Margeuritte and Hassan hit it off immediately.
But the Kadams time in France will not be without strife. Papa has decided on where the Kadams will make their fortune. He buys an abandoned restaurant and decides that this will be home. Unfortunately, the Kadam Indian restaurant will be a hundred feet across the street from the very same restaurant Margeuritte works for, one owned by the widow Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Not happy with what she sees a low class addition to her community, Madame Mallory does her best to squash the competition.
Facing a fierce competitor and some extreme prejudice, how can the Kadam family hope for a successful venture in France? And how will Hassan ever reach his dream of becoming a renowned chef?
The best way to describe The Hundred-Foot Journey is to call it a romantic dramedy. There is such a mix of emotion to be found in the film, that I can think of no other fitting description. You have the tragedy of loss, the determination of reaching one's dream, the romantic chemistry between some of the film's characters, the comedic moments that surround the competition between Madame Mallory and Papa (and also the more dramatic moments) and more.
I loved the statement in the film regarding food: "Food is memories." When you think about it, there is no truer statement. One bite into a favorite dish takes you back to the first time you had it or a happy time in your past in which the dish was served. For Hassan, the taste of certain foods brings back memories of his mother and his family in happier times.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is more than just a movie about chasing your dreams, it's about realizing exactly what those dreams really are. Do you want to be a famous chef, serving millions of strangers your special blend of innovative French cuisine with Indian accents? Or do you want to be a respected chef in an atmosphere you love amongst friends and family? These are difficult choices for Hassan and, although he appears to lose his way, he soon realizes what will truly make him happy in life. A number of characters in this film also come to the same realization in more subtle, but no less poignant ways.
Many with a palate for new and exciting foods will find themselves hungry after the film. The presentation and color of the foods cooked in the film are quite alluring. The cinematography allows one to take in the beauty of the French countryside, making one long to visit France's more rural communities. The music of the film is a great deal of fun.
I loved the movie, both the dramatic and comedic parts, but sometimes it is best to sum up a film by the reaction of the theater audience. By the time I had gone to see the film, it had already been showing for weeks, so I didn't expect a huge crowd. My showing of The Hundred-Foot Journey was presented to six groups of two consisting of varying ages. But the reaction of each member of the audience was unanimous. Everyone laughed at the battles between Madame Mallory and Papa, sighed at the chemistry of Margeuritte and Hassan and smiled at the movie's up-beat ending. One woman even got up and began dancing while the ending credits ran, a testimony to the enjoyable music composed for the film by A.R. Rahman.
To sum things up, The Hundred-Foot Journey is an uplifting film about a young man striving for a goal who realizes that he had already achieved it long ago. The movie has a highly enjoyable storyline made even better by the chemistry of its actors and their brilliant performances in their roles. The Hundred-Foot Journey is definitely a movie I would watch again. Can't wait to get my hands on the book!