Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

A ‘Hundred Foot Journey’ to a Near Perfect Dish

Papa Kadam (Om Puri) , Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) and Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) in "The 100 Foot Journey." (DreamWorks)

Papa Kadam (Om Puri) , Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) and Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) in “The 100 Foot Journey.” (DreamWorks)

It would be easy to excuse and skip The Hundred Foot Journey film as an artsy, fluffy movie that nobody wants to see. There’s no sex, violence, action or language. Nobody died while making the film and it isn’t surrounded by scandal. But Journey is one near perfect example of storytelling that would be a shame to miss

With the look and flavor of an indie film, “Journey” was funded by the big names of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfey, who serve as producers of the film and was created by DreamWorks. It stars Helen Mirren and the story was written by Steven Knight, a name not well-known to American audiences, but is huge in England.

As a comedy/drama/romance, Journey focuses on the battle between two cultures and two restaurants. The Kadam family, native from India, have been displaced and move to France of all things. The family business is running a Indian restaurant, something that seems out of place in France. Papa (Om Puri) finds the “perfect” location to set up shop – right across the street (one hundred feet in fact) from Le Sale Pleureur, a Michelin-starred classical French restaurant which is run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Madame is sure that new restaurant will detract from her own and gives a rather chilly reception to the family. However, Madame has a sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) who takes a liking to Papa’s son, Hassan (Manish Dayal) and helps to teach him the finer aspects of French cooking. Hassan is already a cooking prodigy, so this battle will be harder to win than Madame thinks.

And what one hopes will happen, happens in this story. Walls are slowly taken down and we slowly find a more loving and friendly person inside Madame while Marguerite begins to stiffen when she realizes that her career maybe at stake for helping “the enemy.”

“Journey” has the flavor of other family comedies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Bend it Like Beckham as there is much to like here. While the story focuses mostly on Hassan, the rest of the family get a few good lines here and there as well. The story is squeaky clean with no bad language (that I can remember anyway) and really, there is nothing in it to be offended by. However, that will be enough reason for some critics to give the film a bad review because it isn’t “edgy” enough. The film is totally enjoyable and is a rare gem indeed.  Some may take issue with the fact that Papa tends to “hear” from his dead wife who gives him direction beyond the grave, but the story doesn’t focus too much on this and one could argue that the “voice” he hears is actually God leading his family.

The budding romance between Hassan and Marguerite comes off as realistic and watching all of the food be prepared will definitely make you hungry.

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