In Praise of The One Hundred Foot Journey

Movie Review Jackie K Cooper
The One Hundred Foot Journey (DreamWorks)

Sometimes the stars align and a movie you expect to be wonderful is all that and more. You get a director with a vision that never wavers. You get a group of actors who are perfectly cast and are superbly talented to boot. Then you add in a cinematographer who makes every scene seem golden and gorgeous. Finish it off with a sensitive musical score and you have The One Hundred Foot Journey. This is Lasse Hallstrom's tribute to three of the essential senses -- sight, sound and taste.

The movie, which is based on the best-selling novel by Richard C. Morais, tells the story of the Kadam family. After his wife dies in a fire at their restaurant in India, Papa Kadam (Om Puri) takes his three sons and two daughters to France. He feels their opportunity for good fortune and peaceful lives will be better there. He doesn't know exactly where they are going to settle but fate steps in and lands them in a small french town where an abandoned restaurant is located.

The "abandoned" and for sale restaurant is situated across the street from Madame Mallory's (Helen Mirren) Michelin one star exclusive restaurant. She is definitely not pleased when the Kadam family moves in across the street and starts renovating the building. She consoles herself that the restaurant will not last long but she did not count on the almost abnormal cooking talent of Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal). He has been touched by the gods with a sense of how food should be prepared.

Hallstrom takes his time in letting this tale of warring cultures unfold. He also allows the audience to slowly grasp the personalities of the parties involved and to warm to them as they work to out cook and out maneuver each other. With scenes that are almost delicate in their presentation he controls the events and makes them proceed at his pre-determined rhythm and pace.

Helen Mirren heads the cast and it is she who gives the film its heart and heading. Madame Mallory is a complex character but as the film moves along we see layers of her emotions begin to surface. Opposite her, Puri matches her talent for talent and charm for charm. It is a perfect pairing of actors in a story that does not always define the relationships being shown but permits the audience to draw their own conclusions.

Equally appealing is the relationship between Hassan and Margarite (Charlotte Le Bon), the sous chef for Madame Mallory. The growing attraction between these two make up a core part of the story. It is through their eyes the audience sees the cooking talent of Hassan begin to unfold and this achievement puts his and Margarite's relationship in jeopardy.

Everything comes alive in this film from the delightful differences in the characters to the golden glow of the french countryside. The meats and vegetables presented by the chefs are gorgeous and the preparation of them makes for a sensual feast for the senses.

The film is rated PG for mild adult situations.

If you give yourself over to Hallstrom and let him lead you through this enchanting tale with leisure and expertise you will find it to be an extraordinary entertainment experience. The trailer for the film had indicated it would be an out of the ordinary movie and it lives up to those expectations and exceeds them.

I scored The One Hundred Foot Journey a delicious 9 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper