Beautifully satisfying! It isn’t often that a movie can be summed up with simple adjectives; but, this movie has what it takes to mesmerize audiences with the unique blend of beauty and charm. From picturesque landscapes that cast a spell on the mind to relaxing meadow brooks that leap right off the canvas of a Thomas Kinkaid painting, the story of two competitive restaurants in a quaint provincial French village unfolds before your eyes. Add exquisite talent and a sweeping score, and you have an instant classic tale of romance and cuisine. From the Oprah praised novel The Hundred-Foot Journey written by Richard C. Morais, comes a movie with an impeccable screenplay and a pedigree of talent on and off the screen. Some of our fondest memories involve the sights and aromas of food for the holidays or other special occasions; and, this movie showcases just how important food is, not merely as a way to sustain life, but as a way to explore and live life to the fullest.
The motion picture adaptation of the novel by the same name is about a refugee Indian family who flees to Europe after their restaurant is destroyed by the opposition party following an election that placed the patriarch of the [Kadam] family in a position of power in the village. After the brakes on their jalopy of a car fail outside of a French village, the family begins to build a new life–and building a new life means opening an Indian restaurant. It’s nearly instant that the Kadam family clashes with Madame Mallory (Hellen Mirren), the proprietress of a celebrated French restaurant and finest one for miles, after they open their own nearby eatery. The rivalry continues until undeniable chemistry causes the Madame to take gifted young chef Hassan under her wing as East meets West. Very much in the vein of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
One of the most intriguing aspects to this foodie fairytale is the talent behind the beautifully written screenplay. Veteran screenwriter Steven Knight, who’s best known for his gritty London underworld thrillers, recently came off an unusually adventurous directing debut with Locke. It’s worth noting that his scripts like his Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things usually cater to the edgier content and were directly concerned with the hostilities bred in and around specific immigrant communities. Still, this screenplay is not without the hostility that we have come to associate with Knight. He uses his literary prowess to contrast the heat and intensity of Indian cooking with the elegance and refinement of French haute cuisine, then balances the two with a feel-good lesson in ethnic harmony. So many of the characters experience some type of development. The character development, in this movie, is extremely dynamic and heartwarming. Undoubtedly, one of the characters will find a place into your heart as you watch this film that is essentially a cross between Slumdog Millionaire and Ratatouille.
Hellen Mirren never fails to cast her enchanting spell on audiences no matter what her role. Though she’s encumbered somewhat by her French accent, Mirren is superb at both projecting an air of hauteur and expressing the vulnerability beneath it, and she brings out a similar mix of pride and feeling. Her counterpart, best known as Papa, played by Om Puri, is such a great patriarchal figure because his stubbornness and desire for success never overshadow his love for his family. Furthermore, he plays such a brilliant sparing partner for Mirren’s Madame Malory. They are able to play the “tit for tat” element early on in the movie extremely well. Both characters find a perfect blend of humor and tenacity. Very often, there are subtle references to plot points in Disney’s Ratatouille, and it makes for excellent kitchen comedy. Food is more than a way for the body to generate energy; it’s a window to the soul.
Produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Juliet Blake, this movie is a brilliant combination of a quirky romantic comedy and soon-to-be art house favorite. In addition to the amazing direction provided by Lasse Hallstrom, the cinematography by Linus Sandgren is captivating in every frame; and in a stunning fashion, advances the story in such a way that the visuals make love to the eyes. And if you are in the mode for an intense passionate sweeping score, then you will love the music by A.R. Rahman. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a date and head for an evening at the cinema!