Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Movie Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

Previous Review: The Expendables 3
Next Review: The Giver

The Hundred-Foot Journey is such a delightful, pleasant experience. It's a feel-good, lovely film that's filled with amiable characters, witty dialogue, wonderful cooking scenes and it comes with a sweet and heartwarming message. It has a simple story with a layer of depth and meaning in it. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a film about the passion for cooking.

Based on the novel of the same name written by Richard C. Morais, the film is a story about the Kadam family who retreats and seeks asylum in Europe after their home is destroyed by an angry mob due to an election dispute in Mumbai, India. Finally, the family decided to open an Indian restaurant in the French countryside, which provides a terrific backdrop to the story. However, there's a Michelin-starred restaurant which serves classical French cuisine across the street, exactly 100 feet apart, managed by a strict owner, Madame Mallory with utmost perfection. As cultures clash and conflict arises between the two feuding restaurants, a heated 'war' happens between the two restaurants until Hassan’s (an incredibly talented chef among the Kadam family) passion and talent for cooking impresses Madame Mallory so much that she is willing to take in Hassan to be a chef under her supervision.

The film tries to show that food is a universal experience and cooking is all about memories and love. No matter who you are, where you are in the world, it is food that always brings us together. No matter what your cultural background is (French or Indian), it is food that keeps us connected. Food allows us to communicate our thoughts and express ourselves.

Food gives a glimpse into other people's lives. A person's preference in food or even how a person eats reveals who he or she is...the way you eat or the way you cook reflects the way you live. We can learn about traditions, cultures, relationships just from the food we eat as specific recipes comes from different places and times. To cook for someone is an act of generosity and love. This was clearly shown when Hassan prepares the five 'mother sauces' of Classical French Cuisine (Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomato, Velouté) specially for Marguerite (a lovely sous chef who works for Madame Mallory), as a sign of love.

Food brings people together. This is why we use food to mark special occasions (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc). We spend our time to gather around the table not just to eat, but to talk and share our lives with each other, to strengthen our relationships. Food also allows us to remember life's precious moments with special people. The time we share with our families, friends or community by eating together is precious. People can easily remember their families simply by returning to foods they enjoyed as children. This is what brought Hassan to tears when he tries a spoon of home-cooked curry when he is alone in Paris...he misses his family, his home.

The film won't succeed without stellar performances from the casts to carry the film. Helen Mirren delivers a great performance as her portrayal of Madame Mallory is truly exceptional. The moment when she's tasting Hassan's omelette and gives an otherworldly reaction was priceless. Not to mention, Om Puri was fantastic as the head of the Kadam family. His stubbornness and persistence provides many laughs along the way. It is such a joy to watch them quarrel and compete with each other. It was also great to see the intense rivalry between Hassan and Marguerite despite their affection for each other.

While the film does not offer anything new, it felt sincere, charming, funny and enjoyable. When the credits roll, you'll feel like you knew the characters. It's a well-made, well-acted film with a story that's full of life. It shows that the power of food able to magically create acceptance, warmth, togetherness, harmony and unity.

Rating: 8.5/10

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard 

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." - Harriet Van Horne

"Cooking for people is an enormously significant expression of generosity and soulfulness, and entertaining is a way to be both generous and creative. You’re sharing your life with people." - Ted Allen

"Food is closely connected to that central power of the human soul, memory." - Thomas Moore

Previous Review: The Expendables 3
Next Review: The Giver

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