The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, U.S., 2014

By D.G. McCabe

The food film has a distinct advantage over other films belonging to specific sub-genres.  Most of us are attracted to attractive looking food – see all of those commercials with the mouth watering cheeseburger that we all know is really a deconstructive mess.  The food film can dazzle us with images that remind of us flavors and aromas, transporting us to distant lands.

So what’s the food film’s advantage?  If the food looks great, the movie can get away with a lot.  The Hundred-Foot Journey is a solid film as it is, but I can’t imagine if you dropped the same characters into a barber shop dispute it would be half as good.

The film begins with a family of Indian restauranteurs, the Kadams, who are forced to leave India for Europe.  Eventually, through a series of mishaps, they end up in the French countryside, opening an Indian restaurant across the street from Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) white-table cloth, traditional French restaurant.

From there, the story goes in a fairly predictable direction.  There are some challenges along the way, but eventually things work out.  And there’s great food, and better food.

The film isn’t all fluff.  It demonstrates racism in French society, critiques the Paris restaurant scene, and comments on male/female relationships in the workplace.  While it stops at these serious spots, it doesn’t stay long, and quickly returns to its fluffy, foodiness.

And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Not every film needs to be serious or groundbreaking.  Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and enjoy what’s cooking.

You might like The Hundred-Foot Journey if: You’re in the mood for a generally light, food-heavy, comforting film.

You might not like The Hundred-Foot Journey if: You really can’t stand predictable films and/or food films don’t appeal to you.

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe