Sunday, December 14, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Released August 8, 2014

Some movies are about epic adventures, and the dramatic lengths to which a person or group must go to overcome a major obstacle. There is a feeling of anticipation that builds as transcending that barrier continues to be a challenge, and at times it seems unclear if the main character or characters will be able to do it. And then there are those times where the journey is far less physical or burdensome, yet its accomplishment still remains an unlikely feat. As its title indicates, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is not a typical film about barriers to success, yet its story arc is inherently familiar and relatively inviting.

Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is introduced as an eager young man confident in his culinary abilities, first seen speaking to an immigrations officer and trying to make a case for why he is certain that he can find gainful employment in his new country of residence. He explains that his family moved from India to London, where they literally lived right next to Heathrow Airport to the point that planes would fly to directly overhead, just narrowly missing the top of the house. From there, the family relocated to France, where their food service history permitted them the opportunity to bring a new kind of cuisine for locals, though they had the misfortune of opening up shop across the street from a popular restaurant owned by the determined Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

What comprises much of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a war of culture and food between Madame Mallory and Hassan’s father (Om Puri). The two buy out the entire supply of a given food on the other’s menu from the market when they know an esteemed guest is on his way and tattle on each other to the mayor for minor code violations. As those less blinded by their own histories tend to do, Hassan and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), who works in Madame Mallory’s kitchen, begin a romance but have trouble turning it into something due to their battling institutions.

The kind of conflict that exists in “The Hundred-Foot Journey” doesn’t involve people actually being hurt or any lives being threatened. Instead, it’s a cultural comedy, one that uses a love for food and for creative cooking to fuel its story and the passion of its characters. Mirren, as she often does, is having a blast playing Madame Mallory, making her stuffy and endearing at the same time, and Puri is delightful as well. Dayal and Le Bon make a good couple, but ultimately this enjoyable film is an ensemble treat, one that may not be remembered in a hundred years or even a hundred years but is plenty of fun while it lasts.


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