NB: There may be light spoilers in this review, so you don't like spoilers please don't read on.. Just go see it! Trust me, it's that good :)
imdb - The Hundred Foot Journey
premiere.fr - Les recettes du bonheur
wikipedia - Long plot description
This film has been out for some time now... I meant to watch it a while ago but kind of forgot. So last night I finally decided to see it since it's on its last days to be screened.
I don't like to know too much about films before I see them. I've even stopped watching trailers and reading any sort of review. I only read the blurb and see what it's rated on imdb. If it's rated 7 or higher it's more than likely to be good (and this was rated 7.5 at the time of me writing this post).
So the blurb said, "The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery."
That description was enough to entice my eyes AND my tastebuds! hehe. I love Indian food, I love French food, heck I love almost any sort of food if it's well done and tasty, beautifully presented and made with love.
The film is directed by Lasse Hallström of Chocolat fame. I didn't know who he was till afterwards when I read more about him. When I think about it, there are quite a number of similarities between this film and Chocolat, namely strangers arriving in a small French town, outcasted, but eventually become integrated and welcomed by the locals. I guess that maybe Lasse has a soft spot for films featuring delicious cooking and food imagery and for quaint little French villages.
The film is interestingly produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey (something I didn't know until I read the credits during the end of the film) and Juliet Blake (who is a content producer for TED talks and approached the other two about making this film).
The story is based on a book by Richard C. Morais and was featured in Oprah's bookclub. in 2010
Helen Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the owner of a 1 star Michelin restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow) who is dying to get her second star. Although she is excellent in this film I can't help but wish they'd chosen a French actress as I can definitely hear her English accent when she speaks French (although I'm sure most English speaking viewers don't care and can't tell the difference). Like Chocolat, it is also odd that everyone in the town speaks fluent English but meh, it's a Hollywood film and I guess they didn't want to make it a foreign film and subject viewers to reading too many subtitles.
Due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances (which I won't go into as you'll see them all in the beginning of the film), the Kadam family ("Papa" (played by the acclaimed actor Om Puri) and his 5 children ranging in age from about 6 to late teens?) end up in this tiny idyllic town, Saint Antonin Noble Val (which is a real place and the film was actually filmed there). It is located about 100km north of Toulouse. It is a 900-1000 year old medieval town with a population of about 2000 (wikipedia).
I don't know what is more beautiful. The scenes of the village, or the scenes of the food. Both are equally impressive and beautiful but the food and cooking scenes are just exquisite and mouthwatering. If you love food or films featuring food, this is one reason alone to watch this film!
I became fascinated by cooking in general as well as French cooking a few years ago when I started watching Masterchef (blogpost here). And this movie just made me want to go out and cook as well as eat!
So Papa, with his entrepreneurial vision, sets out to buy the restaurant that is now closed and for sale, since the owners moved to Paris. They could not compete with Madame Mallory. He intends to turn the former French restaurant into "Maison Mumbai", introducing French people to the wonders of Indian home-style cooking. Of course Madame Mallory doesn't like this one little bit and sets out to start a 'war'. What ensues is a hilarious battle of securing the best ingredients and showing off the best cooking skills in order to acquire new and more customers.
The plot is not just about the war before the two elders though, there is also another major plotline. Here, we are introduced to relative newcomer and a shining star, Indian American Manish Dayal, who plays the second eldest son Hassan. He discovered old French cookbooks in the former restaurant and sets out not only to improve his Indian cooking skills, but to learn the fine art of traditional French cooking. As well as that, he meets a beautiful young chef named Marguerite (played by Canadian Charlotte Le Bon), who happens to work in Le Saule Pleureur and whom he happened to meet during that first (un)fortunate car accident when the family first arrived in town.
So you can guess what happens as it is a Hollywood film and therefore quite predictable in parts and I predicated many things in the film. However, there were also many unpredictable parts and twists which was nice. I don't want to say too much more without giving it all away.
The other 4 kids don't feature widely in the film and basically have no storyline but I imagine that they will also be up and coming stars.
I spelt the first half laughing my head off or having a big cheesy grin on my face. It was just so funny and feelgood. I related to many themes in the film such as being a stranger in a strange land, culture shock and differences, missing family/home... In some of those scenes where those themes are brought up (particularly towards the end) I almost felt a tear come to my eye. I could relate to the lead character Hassan a lot. Everything seems to have a trade off in life and you have to make the best choice for YOU, and do what makes you happy. If I could take away anything from this film that as the message I got. That, and family and food are the most important things. And food is memories. Family memories. And indeed, even before seeing this film, family and food are always the top two things I miss most while I'm living in Europe. I got goosebumps many times during several scenes of the film.
So I haven't talked a lot about the plot but I hope I've given you enough information and incentive to see this film. As it's probably not out in the cinemas anymore where you live, please go check it out once it's released on DVD.
It's just such a beautiful and heartwarming film. I will watch it again and again! :)
I enjoyed the film a LOT. SO much that I would rate it 10/10. I know that's a big score but that's how I felt. I can't wait to read the book too now!
On another note about the music, the soundtrack (played during the credits) is composed by A. R. Rahman, of Slumdog Millionaire fame. My favourite is 'My mind is a stranger without you' (at 45:57) - a beautiful bilingual song in both French and Hindi (I think?)
On a linguistic note, most English film titles are always kind of cryptic and allow you to use your imagination where as in other languages the title is far more literal.
The English title is The Hundred-Foot Journey (Foot as in distance). I didn't really think about the title and how it fitted to the film till I arrived home but the more I thought about it the more it made sense and the more I liked the title!
The French title is Les Recettes du bonheur (The recipes of happiness) - which describes the film more aptly, I guess
The German title is Madame Mallory und der Duft von Curry (Madame Mallory and the smell of curry) - kind of funny when you think about it! There's no way they'd name it that in English.
The Spanish title is Un viaje de diez metros (A journey of ten metres)
The Italian title is Amore, cucina e curry (Love, cooking and curry)
The Portuguese title is A viagem dos cem passos (The journey of a hundred steps)
The French Canadian title is Le voyage de cent pas (The journey of a hundred steps)
The Swedish title is 100 steg från Bombay till Paris (A hundred steps from Mumbai to Paris)
The Chinese Mandarin (China) title is 米其林情缘 (Michelin destiny)
The Chinese Mandarin (Taiwan) title is 美味不設限 (There are no limits to delicious flavours)
The Chinese Cantonese (Hong Kong) title is 米芝蓮摘星奇緣 (Michelin stardom destiny)The Japanese title is マダム・マロリーと魔法のスパイス (Madame Mallory and the magical spices)
The Korean title is 로맨틱 레시피 (Romantic recipe)
The Russian title is Пряности и страсти (Spices and passion)
The Hebrew title is מסע של מאה צעדים (A journey of a hundred paces)
The Arabic title is رحلة المائة قدم (A journey of a hundred feet)
(list of some more foreign titles here)
Pre-order the DVD (due out December 2 in the US)
English film trailer
French film trailer - Les recettes du bonheur Bande Annonce Version Française