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The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

Rare as it is in the Hollywood biz today, some big-screen releases are of the quiet variety (literally – when seeing this, I could hear the rumbles and stunts of Guardians of the Galaxy going on in the next-door theater) and sometimes those are just the kind of stories that touch their viewer the most. 

Hasan Kadam (Manish Dayal) has been learning the art of cooking since he was a small boy. His mother is an artist in the kitchen and their native India is where their family restaurant has prospered for years. This ends when their family is run out of India after political upset inspires riots which leads to the destruction of the restaurant… and the death of Hasan’s mother. When Mr. Kadam (Om Puri) packs up his children, the six of them become kind of vagabonds across the English country - including brief stays across England, in response to their loss only to unexpectedly be stopped in a small French village where the perfect location for a new endeavor presents itself.

The competitive establishment across the street is run by Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), a stiff upper-lipped well-to-do restaurateur whose life revolves around her business and chasing the opportunity to receive a second star. When her new neighbors begin settling in across the street, she finds her livelihood threatened, which stirs a kind of war between the two families – one that inspires some unexpected consequences.  

Seeing this film was more unexpected than not since I’d kind of forgotten that it had been of interest back at its first trailer release. When I checked to see if it was playing locally (after a few weeks already out), I was happy to see the listing since I’d been thinking it was high time to enjoy something on the big-screen again. Based on a novel, this film was nothing like I expected (Helen Mirren arrives later in the story for one thing) and everything it should be all in one fell swoop. It feels like an autobiographical story in many of its faucets just because of its coming-of-age journey story, additionally, it’s a kind of beautiful story of two completely opposing cultures and families learning something new from each other – and more importantly experiencing them realizing they had something to teach the other.  

One thing viewers will realize about this film ten minutes in is that it moves slowly. Knowing anything about the story does bring with it the expectation of a slower pace though from the trailer, I think I’d still imagined a swifter clip. Instead the opening introduces us to the Kadam family by seeing their next move starting at airport customs and flashing back to who they are by showing us their lives in India and what inspired Hasan to be the person he is in his present. Once the Kadam’s arrive in the French village, the story finds its footing and for me, it settled into the best version of its rhythm. The doors open to some subtle humor, more insight into the characters and, of course the beauty of the culinary delights that are featured.  

Moviegoers who appreciate plots that take a well-rounded view of a character’s journey will enjoy this film. The acting is top-notch – everyone from Helen Mirren (there is a sensational scene with her in the Kadam’s restaurant that is as comical as it is perfect to the behavior of her character and therefore insightful - plus she just all-around plays this character brilliantly), who plays off of Puri well to the leading male, Manish Dayal, this has a great assembled set of players. Dayal in particular does a nice job with Hasan considering he is the character who experiences the most radical of changes and emotions. As with everything, this won’t be a film for every person. But if you liked Hillary Manton Lodge’s, A Table by the Window, Julie & Julia or you just in general crave any kind of movie that isn’t about the next big action scene, consider adding this to your list of possible movies to see. (Plus I suspect any fan of Lasse Hallström's work will appreciate this.) The pacing sometimes gets in the way of good storytelling, but as a whole, this is one of the sweetest (new) movies I’ve seen in a while.
Have you seen this one or read the book? If so, share your thoughts below, I'd love to hear from anyone who has read the book and seen the film - is it worth reading the novel?
Share any of your thoughts below, friends.
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  1. Replies
    1. Hope you enjoy it, Juju! It's really a nice movie. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the film! I'm definitely going to watch it :)

  3. I've been wanting to see this one. :)

    1. It's really quite good. Happy watching, Hayden. :)

  4. I had never even heard of this story until I read your review, however, now I really want to see it. :)

    1. Fun, I hope you enjoy it, Eowyn; it's one of those nice, quiet, easy to watch kind of movies, which is what makes it stand apart. :)

  5. This is such a great review, Rissi! I haven't read the book, but I watched the movie along with my whole family and everyone loved it. It could be because of the fact we're half-Indian and total foodies though (plus the love story reminded me of my parents). Haha. ;) I totally agree when you said it was one of the sweetest new films, I thought so too. :)

    1. Hi, Bekah! Thanks for reading. I'm glad your family liked this one - my mom and I really enjoyed it too. But then we have liked movies such as Chocolat or No Reservations so I'm not surprised. :)

      Aw, that's fun you saw some similarities to your family - it's cool when that happens because it tends to make the story more realistic for us.

  6. I enjoyed the book greatly. Wonderful characters and well written. I haven't seen the movie. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. That's great to know, Traveler; I'm tempted to read the book and perhaps will at some point. :)

  7. I really want to see this movie! I saw the trailer awhile ago, but forgot about it. I will definitely check it out.

    1. When you see it, I sure hope you enjoy, Meagan. It's really sweet. :)


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