Food, Fun and Fire

It’s exactly one hundred feet from our door to their’s. Mansur

The Hundred Foot Journey: an entertaining, feel-good movie

By Roger Childs

100f posterAny film with Helen Mirren in it is worth a look. She is a highly talented and versatile actress who has played many queens in her career.

This time she is Madame Mallory, the matriarch of an up-market French restaurant on the outskirts of a provincial town.

Imagine her dismay when an immigrant Indian family, fleeing from persecution, buy up the derelict building opposite with a view to setting up their own ethnic eating place.

A clash of cultures and cuisines

The rivalry that ensues sets the scene for a very watchable food film complete with plenty of:

  • mixing, frying and steaming
  • frantic slicing, dicing and spicing
  • innovative cooking
  • and immaculately presented dishes.

100f foodThe Bombay exiles – father (Om Puri), two sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren — rapidly transform the wreck they have bought and establish Maison Mumbai. However, Madam Mallory is up to the challenge and the food wars begin.

The audience might have expected a first night disaster for the new restaurant. However after a slow start they gradually entice plenty of locals through their doors and introduce them to the tantalising tastes of Indian cooking with its wonderful array of herbs and spices. In fact the aromas practically waft off the screen: mouth watering stuff!

Crossing the lines

100f romanceThe two sides watch each other like hawks, but the inevitable softening occurs after a dramatic incident. The growing entente is also helped by the romantic interest that develops between French sou-chef Marguerite, winsomely played by Charlotte le Bon, and the younger Indian son Hassan (Manish Dayal), who is a talented cook with ambition.

To tell more of the story would spoil the experience for those who haven’t seen The Hundred Foot Journey. Suffice to say, there is a degree of predictability about much of the unfolding plot, but there are a few surprises.

A nicely rounded movie

There is a satisfying mix of drama, humour, passion and expectation in this well presented film. Director Lasse Hallstrom, is no stranger to food movies and readers may remember his mouth-watering Chocolat.

100f leadsThe acting is good from all the cast and Helen Mirren and Om Puri, as the respective restaurant owners, are great foils for each other. Manish Dayal as the aspiring chef plays his role with a convincing mix of humility, diligence and confidence.

Tight editing keeps the story moving and the cinematography makes a meal of the landscapes and town scenes, and the dishes of course!

All the food looks amazing – shot in swishy slo-mo by cinematographer Linus Sandgren, it is swept on to tables with full orchestral accompaniment. Tom Shone, Guardian film critic

The Hundred Foot Journey is an entertaining, if rather predictable, feel good movie which has the audience leaving the theatre well satisfied, but probably looking for a meal.