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article imageReview: ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ appetizingly fuses food and story Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 8, 2014 in Entertainment
‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is the delectable story of a talented young chef who must choose between working at his family’s restaurant and exploring the possibilities the rest of the culinary world has to offer.
For foodies, restauranteurs and chefs, the Michelin star (or three) is the highest approval a menu can receive. Its presence in a window is an immediate and unmatched recommendation. The kitchen's leader is a celebrity in the culinary world. It is an elite status reserved for a selection of the most talented creators and exquisite dishes. In The Hundred-Foot Journey, a young cook is that close to making his gastronomic dreams a reality.
Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) exhibited a love of food and appreciation of flavor as a child. Under his mother's tutelage he honed his natural talents and became a skilled young cook. When a tragic event destroys the family's restaurant, they leave India to begin anew in Europe. Everyone thinks Papa (Om Puri) is insane when he decides to open an establishment in a small French town across the road from a fine dining restaurant with a Michelin star; but his faith in Hassan's cooking leaves no room for reason. While Papa and Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) battle for supremacy, Hassan learns the art of French cuisine and takes his kitchen creations to a level that can no longer be contained within the family business.
Though not front and centre, the culinary world is built on fierce rivalries within the kitchen and between establishments. And like most competitive industries, it also relies on headhunting. A talented chef may receive many attractive job offers from high-end restaurants. Even though the general tone of this film is quite sweet, it highlights these aspects of the business as well. Papa and Madame Mallory engage in war at the food market and involve the mayor (Michel Blanc) in a number of political strategies to hinder the other's business. Hassan's love interest is a sous chef (Charlotte Le Bon) whose ambitions in the kitchen stand as an obstacle to their getting together. Though most of it is framed in lighthearted comedy, the deep-seated seriousness of the craft can still be detected.
The Kadams are an amusing bunch. Papa is stubborn in his plans and his five children have no choice but to go along. He often embarrasses them with his promotional tactics that generally involve flaunting his children's varied talents (namely Hassan's cooking and his eldest daughter's beauty), but it all generally works out in the end. Madame Mallory is the typical female entrepreneur with a tough exterior that is slowly penetrated by her rivals' spirit. Hassan's cooking evidently exudes incredible passion, but it frequently outshines that of his personality; though he does demonstrate great determination and often flashes a warm smile to lessen the gap.
Not surprisingly the upbeat score is provided by A.R. Rahman, adding flavour and texture to the narrative. The music is an important part of the story, regularly used to emphasize the diversity of French and Indian culture, and the challenges the Kadams face in their business venture.
Still, in the end it's just fluff. Although entertaining and enjoyable fluff in the same vein as most of director Lasse Hallström’s previous romantic dramas. And for better or worse, it’s also very likely to make you hungry by the time the credits roll.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Manish Dayal
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