By Tony Pinto
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a film that wants to be more than it is. It’s a film that does so many things well; it doesn’t need to be a serious film that it tries so desperately to be. At times it can be sad and depressing, but for the most part it’s a light-hearted film that teaches acceptance.
The film centers on a young man named Hassan and his family. The Kadam family is forced to leave their native country of India after fire is set to their house and restaurant. The family eventually lands in France of all places and decides to open up a restaurant only 100 feet away from the Michelin-starred Le Saule Pleureur restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).
A battle ensues between the classical French restaurant and the Maison Mumbai, run by the Kadam family. It’s a classic case of “one of these does not belong.” A lot happens between the two restaurants. Madame Mallory stops at almost nothing to get the Maison Mumbai closed.
The movie was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, so you know it’s going to have a happy ending. You know what you’re going to get with this movie. You can very easily figure out what is coming next.
For all the sadness we see throughout the early parts of the movie, it’s surprisingly joyful.
Early on, Hassan’s mother dies. It’s a heartwarming, emotional scene, which this movie does exceptionally well. Throughout the movie, Hassan talks to his deceased mother, seeking her guidance. She’s the one who taught Hassan to cook. Without her, he would not be where he is at the end of the film.
Some may think that at two hours, the film is too long, but it doesn’t seem long at all. It’s never drags. There is a lot going on in the plot at times, and the film can seemed weighed down at times.
For a movie about two restaurants, food is a big deal. The food looks so enticing. When the film is done, a craving for Indian food may come over you. Indeed, the food is the breakout star of the film.
As the only actor or actress of any importance, Helen Mirren does a terrific job playing the older, vindictive chef. Her performance harkens back to some of her earlier movies, where she was the always the feisty one. The whole cast is wonderful and do a terrific job conveying the many emotions that this movie makes you experience.
Overall, “The Hundred Foot Journey” is a quality movie with few flaws. It’s not for everyone, but it offers something most people will enjoy. Even if this film not in your wheelhouse, it’s still worth checking out. Just be forewarned that you will leave hungry.
Tony Pinto's grade: A