For fans of the book The Hundred-Foot Journey, know that the film version from director Lasse Hallstrom is a little different -- but not by too much. There is a darker element in the book that is quite absent from Hallstrom’s film starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon and Om Puri.
We don’t miss that aspect actually, because given the tone that Hallstrom brings to his film, it would be out of left field.
Let’s back up a bit.
Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the owner and manager of a Michelin star-winning French restaurant in the south of France. When Puri and his family (including his chef son extraordinaire, played by Dayal) land across the street -- thus the Hundred-Foot of the title -- to open an Indian restaurant, Mallory is none too pleased. She goes to all sorts of trouble to ensure that they fail.
From buying all the produce and products of any kind at the market to persuading local politicians that this family is a blight on their upstanding town, she will stop at nothing to see them gone.
But, as teased in The Hundred-Foot Journey trailer, food brings everyone together -- as it often does. But, that is honestly just the beginning of our tale.
Dayal’s character Hassan is a gifted chef and, with Mallory’s help, will find himself going all the way to Paris with his talents. There’s also a romance with Le Bon who, as a fellow chef under Mallory’s tutelage, creates some friction. Then, there’s the banter and beauty of the relationship between Puri’s patriarch and Mirren’s Mallory. It is quite stunning to see two actors at the level these two are at going toe-to-toe in conflict and also in collaboration.
Unlike some of the heavy French food featured in the film, The Hundred-Foot Journey is rather light fare. Hallstrom has a touch with the work that is perfect and right in his wheelhouse. It is leagues away from his Chocolat, so don’t go in expecting a similar feel and story. This is a movie about redemption, the importance of family, loving thy neighbor and above all else following one’s dreams and having the courage to realize when those dreams were wrong and finding new ones.
Our The Hundred-Foot Journey review is impressed that this film is coming in the normally blockbuster heavy weekends of summer. There is clearly an audience who will cherish this story and here’s hoping they turn out in droves so that we get more movies with heart during the warmer months and less remakes, sequels and the sort.
And we would be remiss not to mention how impressive the character arc is that Mirren executes. This woman is truly one of the most gifted thespians of our time and seeing her work her magic in The Hundred-Foot Journey is about as delicious as any of the fine food served in the film.
In the mood for another Hallstrom foodie film? Watch Chocolat online!