The Hundred-Foot Journey
Helen Mirren’s 100-foot journey
Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais, The Hundred-Foot Journey can be called a tale of two culinary cultures represented by veteran chefs, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) and Papa Kadam (Om Puri), warring over market shares in a picturesque village in the south of France. Mallory, the proprietor of a fine French restaurant (with a coveted Michelin star), looks down her nose at the boisterous Kadam family, recent arrivals from India, whose Papa is determined to introduce the town to the delights of tandoori. The nerve of those people opening a little Taj Mahal across the road from her venerable establishment!
The screenplay wanes after awhile. The plot is predictable, including the inevitable attraction-repulsion between Mallory’s delightful sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) and Papa’s strapping son Hassan (Manish Dayal). The journey across the 100-foot divide of prejudice and mutual suspicion measured by the road separating the two restaurants is smoothed over with remarkable ease. And yet, The Hundred-Foot Journey has many funny moments and two great actors, Mirren in full snoot and Puri in prideful bluster, facing off only to…well, let’s not give away the ending.
Many of the film’s best moments are spent in the competing kitchens; that bag of popcorn on your lap will offer slight compensation for the pangs of hunger induced by fine French and Indian cooking.