The Hundred-Foot Journey is not too sentimental after all

A review by Brenda Daniels

I had avoided the preview of this film for fear that it might be too sentimental. Now that The Hundred-Foot Journey is on circuit and I have seen it, I can confirm that it is indeed a glossy, unrealistically idyllic, too-earnest movie that glories in the ultimate innate goodness of human beings.

But it is saved from sentimentality by the ongoing rivalry between the main characters, the French scenery is beautiful to look at, and the story is a diverting, funny one that ends happily. I enjoyed it after all.

Hassan (Manish Dayal) has always had a special affinity for food. This gift is nurtured by his mother and Hassan learns early on to cook in the family restaurant in Bombay. Unfortunately, disaster strikes and Hassan’s mother is killed and their business burned to the ground. The remaining family members set off for Europe to see if life will be kinder to them there.

Fateful circumstances lead them to the quaint and beautiful village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in France. Here the family of six – headed by Papa (an entertaining Om Puri) – set up a glitzy Indian restaurant – right across the road (in fact only one-hundred feet away) from the very posh, Michelin-star-rated French restaurant owned and run by snooty Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The Kadam family’s arrival stirs up prejudice amongst the townspeople and intense competition in Madame Mallory herself. A series of funny incidents occur, with both sides determined not to give in.

In the meantime Hassan develops a relationship with one of Madame Mallory’s cooks, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), and hones his cooking skills. Togetherness and acceptance win out in the end and teach the characters a lesson.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is currently showing at Cinema Nouveau Theatres in South Africa.

Om Puri

Om Puri plays Papa in The Hundred Foot Journey. Photo: Creative Commons

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