Rare as it is in the Hollywood biz today, some big-screen releases are of the quiet variety (literally when I was in the theater, I could hear the rumbles and stunts of Guardians of the Galaxy going on next-door). But sometimes those are just the kind of stories that touch their viewer the most.
The Hundred Foot Journey (2014)
Hasan Kadam (Manish Dayal) has been learning the art of cooking since he was a small boy. His mother is an artist in the kitchen and their native India is where their family restaurant prospers for years. This ends when their family is run out of India after political upset inspires riots which leads to the destruction of the restaurant, and the death of Hasan’s mother. When Mr. Kadam (Om Puri) packs up his children, the six of them become kind of vagabonds across the English country. Quite unexpectedly they stop in a small French village where the perfect location for a new endeavor presents itself.
The competitive establishment across the street is run by Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), a stiff upper-lipped well-to-do restaurateur whose life revolves around her business. When her new neighbors begin to settle in across the street, she finds her livelihood threatened, which stirs a kind of war between the two families.
Seeing this film was more of an on a whim kind of thing. When I checked to see if it was playing locally, I was happy to see the listing since it was time to make a movie trip. Based on a novel, this film is nothing like I expect (Helen Mirren arrives later for one thing) and everything it should be all in one fell swoop. It feels like an autobiographical story in many of its faucets just because of its coming-of-age journey. Additionally, it’s a fun story of two cultures, and more importantly the lessons everyone learns.
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One thing viewers will realize about this film ten minutes in is that it moves slowly. The opening introduces us to the Kadam family at airport customs and flashes back to their lives in India. Once the Kadam’s arrive in the French village, the story finds its footing and it settles into the best version of its rhythm. The doors open to some subtle humor, more insight and, of course the beauty of the culinary delights.
Moviegoers who appreciate plots that take a well-rounded view of a character’s journey will enjoy this film. The acting is top-notch, too! Everyone from Helen Mirren (there’s a sensational scene with her in the Kadam’s restaurant) to the leading male, Manish Dayal. Suffice to say, this has a great set of players. Dayal in particular does a nice job with Hasan considering he’s the character who experiences the most radical of changes and emotions. As with everything, this won’t be a film for every person.
If you like Hillary Manton Lodge’s, A Table by the Window (a novel), Julie & Julia or in general, you crave any kind of movie that isn’t about the next big action scene, consider adding this to your list. (Plus I suspect any fan of Lasse Hallström’s work will appreciate this.) The pacing sometimes gets in the way of good storytelling, but as a whole, this is a sweet movie.
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