Sometimes great movies, like exceptional meals, must take time to slowly simmer, allowing all the wonderful seasoning to develop and tenderize. Too much heat, for too long, and a film’s main plot can leave viewers with a burnt, tasteless experience culminating in a boring end. Conversely, a rushed presentation can give moviegoers an incomplete, undercooked raw taste that makes them feel unsatisfied with the film’s conclusion. Thankfully, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a deliciously well-paced romantic comedy with a strong international flavor, delivered by an exceptional cast, that’s aesthetically appealing on all levels.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is the story of the Kadam family’s move from India to the small French village of Saint-Antonin, located just outside Paris. Believing that things happen for a reason, patriarch Papa (played masterfully by Om Puri) builds the family’s Indian restaurant across the street from his most difficult fine dining competitors—a famous Michelin-starred French establishment.
While “The Hundred-Foot Journey” always has food as its centerpiece, the film’s culinary skills focus on its budding relationships; business, cultural, family and personal bonds—aptly set amongst a cast that is one of the strongest so far in 2014. A side dish to the relationships storyline is the all-important popularity contest between the two competing restaurants. It’s at this point, that the world’s Michelin 3-star rating system spices up the film’s journey.
The Michelin Guide was first published in 1900 by two brothers from the tire manufacturer, hoping to provide French motorists with maps and repair information that would also help spur demand for cars throughout France. By 1926, the guide expanded to include grading hotels and fine dining restaurants using a 3-star rating system. In “The Hundred-Foot Journey”, the Michelin Guide motivates and drives the business and personal relationships. Papa’s son Hassan (Manish Dayal) studies and works tirelessly to establish himself as a notable chef, nicely blending old spices and techniques with newer recipes.
A dazzling cast led by Academy Award winner Helen Mirren (“The Queen” 2006) transforms a movie about food into a big-screen delicacy—rich, informative and cooked exquisitely. The movie’s slower pace perfectly marinates this feel-good story so audiences will leave satisfied and full. Although there are no huge plot twists in the film, a few curves appear here and there to keep viewers always entertained. As two cultures attempt to out-wit, out-shine each other in excellence and popularity in the restaurant biz, romance comes to a slow boil. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a great movie choice for any date night or viewers looking for a fine dining, culinary odyssey. Bon appetit!