The Hundred-Foot Journey is a wonderful film, and a treat for both your tummy and your eyes. Produced by the screen gods that are Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, it was never going to be a disaster.
The film tells the story of the Kadam family who flee from India to France pretty much overnight (aside from a brief stint in the UK that ended badly). After stumbling upon a quaint village named Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val (and breathe) in the South of France, the family decide to settle there and open an Indian restaurant. The youngest son, Hassan, taking on the role as head chef. The only problem being that their restaurant sits opposite a Michelin-starred eatery owned by the strict and scary (and asparagus-obsessed) Madame Mallory, played by Helen Mirren. And so a battle of samosas and saag aloo, meets boeuf bourguignon ensues. Queue the food wars.
Adapted from the novel by Richard C. Morais, this is a simple story that explores the sacrifices that one sometimes has to make in order to pursue your dreams. It shows the inner conflicts that may arise along the way and how the path to success never comes easy. As airy-fairy as that may sound, the film is very touching in places as it touches on themes of rejection, prejudice and the clashing of cultures that we so often find in our society.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is very much about achieving peace in a world that is not always understanding and accepting. It conveys how compromise, and putting pride aside are things we must often learn to do in order to be accepted. As Steven Spielberg describes it, the film explores the idea of 'having to walk a distance to achieve something of value for yourself.' Without revealing the plot, the story is especially touching as we follow the journey of young Hassan as he pursues his success in life, as he discovers the sacrifices he must make along the way. He quickly learns that what you strive for in life is not always as appealing as it once seemed.
The Hundred-Foot Journey acts as a lesson in both history and culture. It's a beautiful representation of tradition and family and how for many families around the world, food is the binding ingredient. There's a line in the film that 'food is memories' acting as the key to many relationships in life. The way they talk about food in the film makes you want to sign up for a cookery class the moment you step out of the cinema (I'd also like to learn the secret to achieving the perfect béchamel sauce, please).
Critics have described the film as a yet another 'feel-good drama' but in my opinion it's more than that. It stands out from many films I've seen over the past few years. I would highly recommend it to anyone; it's a rare occurrence these days that a film is a consistent level of pleasant from beginning to end. There's no sexual references, no swearing, no unnecessary violence. It's just a lovely and intelligent story littered with a great sense of humour. You could take your child, your grandfather or any other member of your family for that matter. Even vegetarians would appreciate it.
Perhaps don't watch the film on an empty stomach; the food looks absolutely delicious. It makes Marks and Spencer's adverts look quite mediocre in comparison. Plus, with a great soundtrack by A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) it sounds as good as it looks.
The Hundred-Foot Journey will educate you in ways that many blockbusters currently in the cinema will not. I award it three Michelin stars.