It’s not that any film with the glorious Helen Mirren and the equally glorious Om Puri will automatically be brilliant…well, actually, now you come to mention it, yes, it will, and yes “The Hundred Foot Journey” is.
This is one of those genuinely feel-good movies, and to see it in Delhi (where I live) made it even more special.
The story line is simple. Indian immigrants, fleeing mob violence in Mumbai, and the death of the family matriarch, end up in the South of France and decide to settle there and open an Indian restaurant.
They end up in the South of France more by accident than by design, since their old rattletrap of a car pretty much makes the decision for them, giving up the ghost just outside a perfectly bijou little hamlet in France.
They find a property and start to rebuild the restaurant they had in Mumbai, before it was burned to the ground.
The only problem is that their chosen venue is right across the road – about 100 feet away, in fact – from a one star Michelin restaurant, owned and run by Madame Mallory, played to perfection by Helen Mirren. I don’t know why I was surprised at the excellence of Ms Mirren’s French. Stupid of me, really.
Throw in yet more racism – tackled head on by Madame Mallory – and oodles of “snobbisme”, and a burgeoning romance or two, and the result is a gorgeous, happy, genuinely feel good film.
Seeing it in India, Om Puri’s muttered Hindi asides (many of them asking advice of his beloved late wife) needed no translation, and the audience clearly loved him and his approach to the patronising snobbery of Madame Mallory.
It was fun watching the crucial (& cross-cultural) masala omelette test. I guessing having lived away from Europe for so, so many years, and having come to expect/require a dash of masala on everything, the idea of experiencing a masala omelette for the very first time is cute – we dilliwalas certainly enjoyed Madame’s reaction.
There is no great message, no particularly heavy insights to be gleaned from “The Hundred Foot Journey” – so just sit back and enjoy the film.
It is visually lovely, has a feel-good ending, so what more can one ask?
Ms Mirren and Mr. Puri are excellent.
And as for the gorgeous Manish Dayal…well…