run time: 122 mins
director: Lasse Hallstrom
starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Dillon Mitra, Aria Pandya, Michel Blanc, Clement Sibony, Vincent Elbaz, Juhi Chawla, Alban Aumard, Shuna Lemoine, Antonie Blanquefort
movie summary: In the south of France there is a small restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur, that is one of the best places to eat in the whole country. The Prime Minister of France dines there because Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) has owned the restaurant for decades with her late husband and is an extraordinary host. There’s hardly any competition in the small town so her restaurant is the place to eat. Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is an inspiring cook whose family moved from India to England after their own restaurant burnt down. After a few years Papa (Om Puri) decides to pack up the family and move to France because the ingredients to make the best foods can be found there. While traveling down a rocky road in their new home country the brakes in their van go out causing them to crash in the bushes outside a small little town nestled between the hills. A young lady name Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) comes across the stranded family and offers to help by towing them into town.
While the family pushes the van into the city pass Le Saule Pleureur, Papa notices an abandoned building across the street and a vision comes to his mind that this is the place to start his new restaurant. Hassan, his brother Mansur (Amit Shah), and sister Mahira (Farzana Dua Elahe) all think Papa is crazy when he purchases the run down building despite that fact he is very persistent that his dream restaurant will be there. Madame Mallory is not pleased when the Kadam family move in across the street and begin the renovations to open Maison Mumbai. In an attempt to sabotage their efforts she heads over to introduce herself and glance over their menu. The next day when Papa and Hassan go to buy food for their grand opening the markets are all sold out of their needs. Papa realizes that Madame Mallory wants war and refuses to give up his dream. He tries his best to attract customers with loud Indian music, fancy decorations, and brand new food dishes most people have never experienced in southern France. Madame Mallory counters with noise complaints, sanitation concerns, and any other means necessary to shut them down.
People continue to flock to Maison Mumbai which begin to irritate her cooking staff including her head chef Jean-Pierre (Clement Sibony). He teams up with some buddies to break in to the Kadam home to destroy their kitchen and equipment. Hassan tries to catch the guys but injures his hands in the process, Madame Mallory learns of these events and fires Jean-Pierre thus opening up a spot in her kitchen for an experienced chef. Marguerite has been working as a sous chef for years in preparation for one day becoming the head chef at Le Saule Pleureur. When she learns that Madame Mallory has offered the job to Hassan she gets really upset. Her feelings are extremely hurt when she learns of the job offer because of the romantic spark between the two. Hassan is unsure whether he should take the job because he cares deeply for Marguerite but knows this is a great opportunity for him to expand his cooking skills while teaching people about great food dishes.
Papa does not like the idea of his son going to work for the evil Madame Mallory but respects the fact she finally recognized Hassan’s potential. He is hesitate to let his son go because once Hassan makes it in Le Saule Pleureur it will only be a stepping stone to a brighter future, a future he had always dreamed of for his son.
my thoughts: When the trailer for The Hundred-Foot Journey came out I was intrigued by the idea and even though I have a strong dislike for fine dining I felt this movie had potential. On Friday night I sat through four movies at the theatre and this movie was by far the best one of the night. As I sat through this two-hour movie I came to appreciate the message that was portrayed by the storyline and the characters. This is a great story about putting differences aside to come together to create something special and magical. It’s about overcoming adversity to become a better person and to find the right path in life to take.
When I think of actresses that I like to watch in movies, Helen Mirren is nowhere near the top let alone in the top 100. She’s had a long and illustrious career with the ability to take on almost any kind of role. In The Hundred-Foot Journey she is the stuck up old women that is so set in her routines that she refuses to change anything even if it was the better. It takes the Kadam family to barge into her life to finally open her up and make her see the brighter side in life again. Her whole life is the restaurant, she lives upstairs, and when she realizes that Hassan and Papa are good people she begins to realize the error in her first judgement of them. Her character is very predictable from start to finish but her acting abilities make you feel for her character despite her selfish intentions.
Manish Dayal is superb has Hassan Kadam, the gifted cook from India. His taste buds developed at a young age with help from his mother and when she passes away he makes it his life goal to become the best cook/chef he could be in her honour. He wants his father to be proud of him while expanding his taste palate and showcasing his abilities on a grand stage. Hassan falls in love for the first time and when the job offer of a life time comes along he wants to do the right thing and find a compromise between love and work. When it doesn’t work in a way that makes him happy, he begins to question what means the most to him before making a life altering decision to get things back to the way their were. It is a tough decision to make which left me wondering what I would do if I was in his situation.
Om Puri rounds out a decent cast that provides us with many opportunities for sarcastic wit and wisdom. His heart is always in the right place even though he stands firmly behind his beliefs and emotions. While Hassan may be the inspirational leader of the family because of his talents, Papa is the one who keeps everyone together and moving forward to achieve the best things that life has to offer.
I did not cry during the movie but the ending is really charming and for those who tend to get watery eyes you should be happy.
my final thoughts: I’m sorry to say I spent the whole night comparing The Hundred-Foot Journey to Chef because they are both food movies with similar stories of overcoming adversity. I enjoyed the year’s first food movie a tad bit more because of the cast but this movie is by far one of the more charming movies released this year and will be a pleasure to attend with your spouse or parents. There will be a group of people who will appreciate the theme of the movie and those who don’t.
my star rating: 8 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 64% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 2 out 4