Some people really enjoy ethnic food. For Jenny and me, the best ethnic foods are the Americanized versions: Italian? Go to Carrabba’s. Japanese/Chinese/Korean? Go to Pei Wei. Mexican? Taco Bell of course.
Indian food? Sorry, no good versions of that. One time I ordered a chicken salad wrap from a cool convenience store in Savannah Ga. They accidently gave me one that was spiced with curry. Being a man, it wasn’t worth it for me to get out of my Jeep and go back in the store to correct their error. I am a man; I just ate it for convenience sake. That was a mistake. This wrap didn’t have just SOME curry mixed in it. I think ALL the curry in the world at that time was in that one chicken wrap. I was currified.
So even though The Hundred-Foot Journey focuses on a food that is anathema to me, it doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the BMEM.
We’re told the story of a family who leave their restaurant in India after a family tragedy and take up residence in the French countryside to start over. They open their restaurant across the street (100 feet) from a well known French restaurant.
In the hands of another director and screenwriter, this movie could easily have been a silly comedy or a pretentious message-drama. Instead director Lassie Hallstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – 1993, An Unfinished Life – 2005, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – 2011), and screenwriter Steven Knight have taken a story by Richard C. Morais and given us everyday touches of humor and some very effective drama.
The cast is excellent, led by Om Puri as the family patriarch, Manish Dayal as the son, and Helen Mirren as the owner of the French restaurant.
On top of the main story of the competition with the two restaurants, we have the families’ dealing with the prejudice of the town to the new arrivals, and even more interesting, the son’s struggle with the allure of success in the world of French cuisine.
There’s also a great long shot with no cuts as they’re remodeling the Indian restaurant. If you like long shots, you’ll love this one. It’s like butter!
Interesting side-point: According to the IMDB, the two restaurants facing each other were digitally created. The Indian restaurant in reality faced a large field. They paved a stretch of road and a built a facade on the opposite side of the French restaurant with a blue screen on the top. So a movie where you would assume there are no special effects actually has quite a bit.
So while my sense of taste will never benefit from this movie, it is surely a feast for the eyes and ears.