Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is the enjoyable story of a gifted young Indian chef who rises to prominence with the help of a famed French restaurateur.

Manish Dayal plays Hassan, the chef, who leaves India with his father (Om Puri) and four siblings after political unrest leads to tragedy, including the loss of the family restaurant.

The family ultimately settles in a village in France, opening a restaurant right across the road from a Michelin-starred restaurant run by snooty Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Madame is not thrilled by what she regards as a tacky eatery opening so close to her elegant restaurant.

Madame, in fact, is quite a snobby witch for rather a long time, but circumstances eventually lead to her recognition of Hassan's talent and a warming of relations, as Hassan joins forces with Madame in an attempt to gain her restaurant a second Michelin star.

Hassan also faces conflict with Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), a young sous chef who initially encourages his interest in learning about French cooking but who later feels stung when his success eclipses hers.

The film is nicely made, depicting the clash of cultures and cuisines. I suppose one could say it's a bit by-the-numbers in not being very surprising, but that's also one of the film's strengths: It goes where you want it to go, and in the end the viewer feels better for having seen it.

I did agree with Leonard Maltin that this 122-minute movie runs out of steam toward the end. There was a natural stopping point earlier in the film and what came after that seemed disjointed. All in all, however, I found this a very satisfying couple of hours at the movies.

Here's another review by Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who says the film is the "cinematic equivalent of comfort food."

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY was directed by Lasse Hallstrom. The Steven Knight screenplay was based on a book by Richard C. Morais. It was filmed by Linus Sandgren.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG. There are brief moments of disturbing violence. Other than that, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is about as family-friendly as movies get in 2014.

This film would make a good double bill with another film about a chef working in France, HAUTE CUISINE (2012).

Additional "new" movies reviewed this year: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014), THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014), THE LEGO MOVIE (2014), THE WIND RISES (2013), NON-STOP (2014), 3 DAYS TO KILL (2014), DRAFT DAY (2014), and MILLION DOLLAR ARM (2014).


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