Charlotte Le Bon
Helen Mirren plays Madame Mallory in “The Hundred Foot Journey,” a strong willed woman who runs one of the finest restaurants in France. Her establishment gets some unexpected competition, though, when a family from India opens up their own restaurant right across the street.
The point of pride for the family restaurant is Hassan (Dayal), an aspiring chef who wants to learn the very best about cooking fancy cuisine. While doing so, he meets another young chef who works in Mallory’s kitchen named Marguerite (Le Bon). The two start a friendship and also a rivalry. Meanwhile, Hassan’s father played by Om Puri goes into direct competition with Mallory to see which restaurant can be the best in the small French village.
“The Hundred Foot Journey” works as a feel good movie, and not too much more. The story has too many subplots, predictable twists and turns and extremely stereotypical characters.
There is the story about the character Hassan and his goal of becoming a chef, there is the story of his romance with Marguerite, there’s the story of his father being in competition with Mallory, there’s the story of Mallory being opposed to the other restaurant.
All of these plot points makes the film so bloated that the lead character Hassan doesn’t get the amount of focus that he should until near the end, but the development up until that point has been so lacking because of everything else that it’s hard to care as much.
On top of that, the subplots are drawn out so much more than they should have been, this movie definitely shouldn’t have been two hours, as a 90 minute runtime would have sufficed.
The story is also heavily cliched and very predictable. From montages to certain characters having changes of heart, most audiences will be able to know when a supposed “twist or turn” is going to happen.
Also stereotypical are the characters. Helen Mirren and Om Puri both give OK performances, however their characters are so one dimensional. Mallory is the classic snotty French chef who doesn’t accept change and Hassan’s father is the person who believes him and his family is always right.
The movie also has plenty of throwaway characters who simply weren’t needed for this story to be told. For example a clueless mayor and an evil overly-antagonistic sou chef in Mallory’s restaurant.
The part that hurts the movie most, though is Dayal as the lead Hassan. The role was limited enough because of everything else going on in the movie, but Dayal doesn’t particularly do anything to make it more memorable. He’s likable in the movie, sure, but has nothing offered in the performance to raise it up above simply average.
The film wasn’t even able to really capture France as beautifully as other films have. For example, “Midnight in Paris” was much better at capturing that atmosphere. In fact, even the animated film “Ratatouille” did a better job.
The only thing this film did excel at is filming the food preparation. All the scenes with food were well shot and showed the delicacy of the process. However, in a two hour movie, it’s not enough to hold it up.
“The Hundred Foot Journey” is never truly bad, it’s all just so plainly average, though. It’s predictable and the characters are so stereotypical that it simply doesn’t result in the most compelling cinema. The movie does capture cooking well, Mirren and Puri give alright performances and as I said at the beginning of the review, this is a nice feel good movie. It’s a high 2 out of 5.