The Hundred Foot Journey (Film)

September 6, 2014 at 4:33 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the film of the book – The Hundred Foot Journey – the other day and really liked it. I like films that involve food. The film is also a romance – between two chefs.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

The film is many things: a new immigrant story; a romance (more than one romance); food and cooking; things that divide; and things that unite.

The film starts violently, political unrest in Mumbai (India) causes the Kadam family to flee to the West. A timely brake failure sees them settle in the south of France. This violent beginning introduces a violent undertow that takes some time to dissipate – but things do settle down for the good.

Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is literally a gift to cooking from the gods; trained by his mother in their famiy’s traditional methods and recipes; he is the creative force behind the family’s newly opened restaurant – the Maison Mumbai; he is also able to teach himself cordon bleu cooking from books; and so cross over to a totally different style and tradition of cooking. Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), who cooks in the one Michelin star restaurant across the road lends him the books. As per the title, the film is full of crossing over scenes and analogies. The various characters are forever crossing the road to each other’s restaurant, on some mission or other. At times, “two houses steeped …” seemed to be burned across the screen.

When Marguerite and Hassan meet for the first time, at the Kadam’s broken down van, one knows they are destined for each other and that they will be together: when Marguerite introduces herself to Hassan, she is side lit by the sun, and she is radiant, and he is of course breathless.

Food is important to the Kadams – especially to Hassan – the texture and the taste. They have much in common with the French – who at first don’t know what to make of them. Marguerite’s causal supper that she serves up to the Kadams, after rescuing them, is full of colour and flavour – and it is all local. The audience can tell that the Kadams have food a place they could find many affinities.

For migrants, food is a link to home, to memories of family and friends. The Kadams cling to their traditions. Only Hassan seems willing to try things French. Hassan ends up cooking in the French restaurant – his gift is shared with the world. His fusion of two cooking styles sets the gastronomic world on fire. But in the end it is a traditional Mumbai dish that reminds him of who he is and what is important.

The film is about many journeys: the Kadams physical travels, the Kadams integration into the local village; the locals’ acceptance of these new arrivals; and the journey of food, of east meeting west.

Helen Mirren and Om Puri play the heads of the two respective maisons – to a slightly predictable outcome.

A must see for foodies.

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