Review: ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’: Where the food is as good as the plot

Two diverse cultures clash in “The Hundred-Foot Journey” to create high tension and disputes over what constitutes “good” food. Indian culture and family life are prominent themes throughout this enjoyable movie.

This movie is both a drama and a comedy because it has members of the audience laughing in one scene and reminiscing about their pasts in another. It is directed by Lasse Hallstrom and is based on the novel “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais.

The movie begins with the Kadan family and their restaurant in Mumbai, India. A mob attacks their restaurant one night over an election dispute. They set fire to the restaurant and the mother of the Kadan family (Juhi Chawla) dies in the inferno.

The family flees to safety in Europe. And after piling into a van and crossing the border between Switzerland and France, Papa (Om Puri) loses control of the brakes in the van. The family is stranded and forced to stay the night in a French village named Saint-Antonin.

Papa finds an old building and, to his children’s protest, decides to fix it up and make it into a restaurant. An upscale restaurant lies across the street and the owner, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), is upset to find out that she has new competition.

The two owners dispute throughout the movie and learn to accept their diverse cultures and opinions on what “great” food truly is.

From the very beginning, one of the Kadan family’s sons, Hassan (Manish Dayal), is portrayed as a young man who “has it.” By “it,” he has the ability to taste “good” food. Hassan learns from his mother how to cook, who instructs her son, “To cook, you must kill. Spirits live on in every ingredient.” This theme of “good” food could be fascinating for people in the food industry and food lovers alike.

This film is also about crossing the divide between two very different cultures. It is about relationships and food and how those two things can bring these two diverse cultures together. In an interview, Oprah Winfrey, one of the film’s producers, said that, “It’s about human beings coming to understand other human beings, and more importantly, after you get to experience or step into somebody else’s shoes or see them for a real human being, how you understand that you’re really more alike than you are different.”

Many aspects of Indian culture and family life are portrayed in this movie. Music and culture are key in this film as it ignites one of the first quarrels between Papa and Madame Mallory. The film reminded me of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” because, in that movie, seven people find themselves at a hotel in India. Conflict arises and people fall in love, just like in “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

One of the main themes in this movie is family. Papa mentions, “Wherever the family is, that is the home.” Later on in the movie Hassan finds himself eating Indian food after being separated from his family for a few months. His friend, who had given him the food, asks him if it reminds him of home. His friend is not thinking of the “home” that Hassan is thinking of, Hassan’s home is not India but where his family is in France. This motivates Hassan to make his way back to his family. This is the main theme of the movie and it causes viewers to think of their families and wherever their “home” is.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a great movie for everyone to watch. However, be forewarned, all of the amazing food featured in this movie may make you want to grab a bite to eat afterwards. It could also leave you with a longing to go “home,” or wherever your family is.

Our Grade: A
Rating: PG
Length: 122 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Juhi Chawla, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon