After Chef, The hundred-food journey was another food themed movie released last year.
The hundred-food journey is based on a book Truffles and Tandoori from Richard C. Morais.
Young Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a passionate cook. He learns how to cook from his family who owns a restaurant in India. One day that restaurant is burnt during a riot, Hassan’s mother dies in the fire. The family leaves India for Europe to start over. They land in the UK but choose to travel further to France where they finally settle in a small village Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France by accident.
There Hassan and his family, led by papa (Om Puri), open an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai, hunderd foot in front of a classic French restaurant with Michelin stars run by the strict restaurateur, madame Mallory (Hellen Mirren), Le Saule Pleureur. With his passion for cooking Hassan would love to work with madame Mallory but the latter sabotages his Indian restaurant. And papa doesn’t let him to do so.
Hassan falls in love with Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), a young girl who helps his family the first time they stranded in the village. Marguerite works as a sous-chef at La Saule Pleureur. From her Hassan learns to cook French cuisine. Finally he is able to work with madame Mallory. He even succeeds in gaining Michelin stars for that establishment, making him a star in a culinary world. At the end, just like a fairy tale, everybody is happy.
This movie is visually stunning but the story is so predictable. It is like eating a very good dish lacking the umami. After watching it I am confused as The hunderd-foot journey contains ingredients I love: Food checked, France checked and India checked too but it does not completely deliver. In my point of view the story tries so hard to depict an ideal world where enemies become friends at the end. However it doesn’t work that way in real life.
Take the location of the movie. Both restaurants are located on a provincial street outside the village. I have been to such quaint small French villages. I understand if La Saule Pleureur is packed every night, but Maison Mumbai? How do people know of this restaurant? Are the French in such places eager to taste new cuisine? I doubt it. How does the family Kaddam survive on two or four guests every day?
Regarding the Michelin star, I also raised my eyebrow. Knowing a bit about this world, it seems rare for a young upcoming chef to have it all after winning a star in a short time. Especially in France where countless aspiring young chefs fight for it. And remember, the kitchen is a hard place to work, I mean the hierarchy is still very much alive there. One has to climb to the top.
Despite two points above, I still enjoyed the movie though. The scenery is breathtaking. When Hassan and Marguerite go on a picknick up on a hill or on a riverbank, that is France I know, La douce France.
And of course the food: Colourful Indian curries and fine French sauces seduce me for a tasting session. Vegetables, fruits, breads, sausages and fishes are so fresh looking. Salute to the stylist!
Hellen Mirren (madame Mallory) and Om Puri (papa Kadam) are senior actors who lift this movie performance wise. Actually Dame Mirren was nominated for the Golden Globe for her role as best performance. Another plus point for this movie is Hindi language besides English and a bit of French.
Behind the scene there are big names involved. The director; Lasse Hallström who directed a number of good movies such as Chocolat (Johnny Depp & Juliet Binoche) and What’s eating Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp & young Leonardo Dicaprio), The Cider House Rules (Tobey Maguire, Michael Caine, Charlize Theron). The producers are Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. Looking at these names my expectations were high about this movie at first but unfortunately it doesn’t meet them.
And that is about it. Perhaps my attitude towards the – predictable, sugary, everybody loves each other story – comes from a fact that I live in The Netherlands. Here Dutchies (or dare I say North Europeans?) categorize such story as typical American, which requires the happy ending. It is too sweet. Then I realize it is entertainment. People need a happy ending, albeit on a big screen. And voilà, although I am not raving it like I was with Chef, I give it a 7 for everything except the story, it earns a 6.