Adapted from Richard C. Morais’ book of the same name, The Hundred-Foot Journey is the story of a culinary clash in France. When talented chef, Hassan Kadam, and his asylum-seeking family stumble upon a small village in France due to their van breaking down, Papa Kadam takes this as a spiritual sign and decides to buy a derelict building, turning it into a new Indian restaurant.
The only problem is that a hundred feet in the opposite direction is a Michelin starred, high class restaurant, headed by pompous Madame Mallory. A traditionalist and in no way a fan of ethnic foods, her attempts at forcing the Kadam family out end up sparking a war between the two restaurants.
Using food as a metaphor for the clashing of cultures, the film is just as much about the differences between the French and Indian people as it is the French classics and curries. As the traditional flavours of the different countries begin to blend in the food, so do the characters, and whilst this all sounds very deep, it really isn’t.
Produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, The Hundred-Foot Journey has schmaltz written all over it from the beginning. It’s warm Indian spicing and has a sickly-sweet chocolate fondant ending, but that’s in no way a bad thing.
With a script from the brilliantly talented Steven Knight, writer and director of Locke, this year’s high-concept thriller, it manages to reign in the over-sentimentality of the film. Whilst there’s no denying its predictability, it’s still funny enough and still entertaining enough to forgive its a-to-b narrative.
It’s overlong by about twenty minutes, and the film does lose it’s way slightly towards its final act, but on a whole it trots along at a nice pace, with light and breezy laughs. The cast are all charming too, lead by Helen Mirren who plays a stuck-up French snob to perfection.
As far as the direction and photography goes, this is food porn at its most high-brow; more three course dinner at a black tie event than a KFC in your anorak, and classical music is used to great effect in classing up the whole culinary affair.
Completely serviceable, though hardly memorable, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a satisfying, enjoyable and light-hearted time at the cinema. It isn’t as challenging or as deep as I think it tries to be, but in this case it doesn’t need to be. Pure entertainment is sometimes good enough for me.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com