Recently I went and saw The Hundred Foot Journey at the cinema. It was a very interesting film, actually. The problem was that it didn’t stay that way.
The movie follows the story of an Indian family that fled their home country following persecution, and the death of the mother. They find themselves travelling Europe, until their car breaks down in France. There, they find a rundown old restaurant building whose owners had been scared away by the classic French restaurant across the road, which has a Michelin star. Despite protests from his family, the father of the family (Om Puri) buys the building, eager to settle down.
The story follows mostly the son, Hasaan (played by Manish Dayal), as he finds himself in the middle of two cultures clashing. He experiences love (with Marguerite, played by Charlotte Le Bon), racism (by the chef of the opposing restaurant, Jean-Pierre, played by Clement Sibony), and new ways of cooking as he is mentored by the head chef across the road (Helen Mirren, playing Madame Mallory). He and his family spend the first half of the movie in hilarious battle with Le Saule Pleurer as their Maison Mumbai fights for attention and top billing.
For the first hour or so, it is a movie dedicated to family, love and cooking.
Then the movie tries a twist, and Hasaan ends up accepting an apprenticeship from the family’s rival. He learns to cook, and then ends up travelling France, working at new restaurants and earning a name for himself. Suddenly the movie loses its warmth and humour. It takes a lot longer than I felt it should for anything interesting to happen, to be honest. Hasaan wanders, feeling sorry for himself, and no longer are we informed about his family or his girlfriend, whom he just ups and leaves [it certainly loses a lot of the romance it has in the beginning, once he enters in a not-so-friendly-rivalry with Marguerite, who believes he was just using her. He does nearly nothing to dispute this, and turns hard against her].
During the last ten minutes, he reunites with his family, but they blend into the background. He meets up with Marguerite and it would appear their relationship is mended, but all we get is a quick kiss. He appears to want to return home but ends up taking ownership of Le Saule Pleurer, instead of the family restaurant, despite him having been their main cook. It doesn’t end the way it could have, and I found that very disappointing.
I think the movie was good, overall. The acting was superb and the storyline was interesting, although, at times, difficult to follow. I do wish it had gone a little differently, because I feel the ending left it lacking, and caused it to lose its morale, however, I would recommend watching it.
It’s a 3 out of 5.