It’s always refreshing to see a movie this summer with no overblown CG effects and hand-to-hand violence. Only old-fashioned drama comes into play in The Hundred-Foot Journey. This is the latest from director Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat) and producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. I can’t imagine another movie – that I’ve seen this year – having real human connections with a mouth-watering menu on the side (I have yet to see Chef). Even having the movie set in France, it makes me want to travel there so bad for its beauty, romance, and charm.
The movie introduces the Kadam family moving out of their home in India after a tragic event. They go around Europe to try make a name for themselves. Papa (Om Puri) is driving the family to the countryside in the south of France, but their van gives out. They push it in the village of Saint-Atonin-Noble-Val. Papa discovers an abandoned restaurant, and decides to turn it into Maison Mumbai. While working on opening the restaurant, the family meets Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of Le Saule Pleureur, a one-star Michelin restaurant across the street. She becomes suspicious on what they are opening. After complaining about their music being too loud, Papa says: “I’ll turn the music down, but I’ll turn the heat up.”
When a clash commences between the two cultures, the eldest son Hassan (Manish Dayal) begins a relationship with the lovely Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), the sous chef of the Le Saule Pleureur. He expresses his desire of becoming a chef ever since he was a child growing up in India being taught by his mother. As he begins to appreciate for French cuisine, Mallory thinks the Kadam family might be a one-of-a-kind after all.
You might know where the story is going to lead to from a mile away, but it’s impossible to resist what Hallström delivers on screen. He directs Helen Mirren and a first-rate cast with enough wit and charm with beautiful backdrops of France (definitely a runner-up for Best Cinematography). This is a movie about conflict, desire, passion, and respect. How these two different cultures suffer a recent tragedy, and might give in if they appreciate their own needs. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a feel-good movie perfect for the family. A delicacy, indeed!