‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’: satisfying tale of dueling cuisines
Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald’s review of “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” starring Helen Mirren and directed by Lasse Hallström, about an old-school French restaurant and the Indian restaurant that opens up across the street. It got three stars out of four.
Seattle Times movie critic
Movie Review ★★★
‘The Hundred-Foot Journey,’ with Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe. Directed by Lasse Hallström, from a screenplay by Steven Knight, based on the novel by Richard C. Morais. 122 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sexuality. Several theaters.
Like a tasty comfort-food meal you’ve eaten countless times before, Lasse Hallström’s “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is utterly predictable yet thoroughly pleasant. And it holds an undeniable ace up its chef-coat sleeve: Helen Mirren, sporting a nose held high and an icy Gallic accent, as the no-nonsense proprietress of a classic French restaurant.
I’d walk far more than 100 feet — wouldn’t you? — to see Mirren acting huffy (one of her many specialties), and here we also see her gesturing with a limp stalk of asparagus, tossing a nice young chef’s food in the garbage and intoning lines like “You cannot be nervous and make a sauce hollandaise. The eggs will feel it, and they will separate.” I didn’t doubt her for a second.
The story, based on a novel by Richard C. Morais and adapted by Steven Knight, is a simple one of dueling cuisines. Members of the Kadam family, headed by patriarch Papa (Om Puri) and oldest son Hassan (Manish Dayal), leave their home in India in search of a better life; eventually, they arrive in a picturesque village in the south of France and open an Indian restaurant there. Directly across the street, however, is Le Saule Pleureur, run by Madame Mallory (Mirren) — a white-tableclothed, Michelin-starred establishment whose owner isn’t pleased to have something “ethnique” opening in such proximity. Territorial squabbling ensues, to the dismay of Hassan, a gifted chef who’d like to win Madame’s respect, and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), a charmingly button-eyed sous chef at Le Saule Pleureur who’s caught Hassan’s eye.
Everything sorts itself out, quite like you’d imagine it would, but movies like this don’t exist for the plot. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is all about the food, photographed with breathless reverence: the fiery-rich reds and oranges of Indian spices, the precise artistry of a beautifully plated French entree, a slow-motion whisking of eggs that feels almost religious, a perfectly choreographed montage of chopping. The movie loses its way a bit in the final third — it takes far too long for the inevitable to occur — but it’s always a pleasure to look at, celebrating food in which “every bite takes you home.”
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org