The Hundred-Foot Journey: Parlez-vous Tandoori?

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The Hundred-Foot Journey:  Parlez -vous Tandoori?

The most unusual thing happened at the screening for “The Hundred-Foot Journey”.  Before the movie started a quick video of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey popped on screen with the two producers gushing about their ‘baby’ and how much they hoped you would enjoy the movie.  Not only is an intro like that extremely rare, I have never seen one from people of their caliber and I am pretty sure they are passionate about all their endeavors.  They didn’t need to do that.  The quality and artistry behind “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is abundant in every frame.

Stealing a page from uptight, slightly racist characters usually played by Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the proprietress of a stuffy, gourmet French restaurant of Michelin star renown.  All is serene in her world until a family displaced from their native India decides to set up shop right across the dirt street in the French countryside.  The glaring lights and blaring music prove to be too much for Madame and soon she wages an all-out war with the family of restaurateurs. 

But when Madame comes to the realization that she herself might be responsible for the horrific racist backlash the family suffers at the hands of her own staff and that the young man across the street is something akin to a culinary savant, she takes Hassan (Manish Dayal) under her wing.

What is a comical tug of war movie, blossoms into full blown romance for all ages!  Mirren is pitch perfect as the uptight, controlling Madam.  Om Puri as Papa is an absolute delight in every frame.  Manish Dayal proves he can hold his own in scene after scene whether he is going toe to toe with Mirren or wowing with his culinary skills.

Director Lasse Hallstrom does a masterful job of mining the most laughs while delicately balancing the few hateful scenes of violence and hatred. 

There is much joy and fun to be had in “The Hundred-Foot Journey” but I found it oddly devoid of mouth-watering food visuals.  Of course there are a few but when Hassan reaches the peak of his career, I was left cold by the shots of molecular gastronomy on parade.  It is the only thing about the movie I found disappointing.  But perhaps “Chef” is to blame.  After seeing the food in “Chef”, anything else is an eye feast let down.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” whips up 4 Red Vines for beautiful storytelling

 


A preview of this movie was provided to me by the studios but it in no way affects my unbiased review.