Often with foodie films, the filmmakers treat the on-screen dishes like Michael Bay treats women: they tart the subject up and use glistening gratuitous close-ups with the intention of making the audience drool. But in this adaptation of Richard C. Morais’ novel, Chocolat director Lasse Hallström isn’t as interested in food porn as he is in food romanticism.
Hassan is a gifted curry chef, looking to expand his cooking knowledge while helping keep the family cuisine business afloat. They set up shop across from vicious head chef Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren in typically sumptuous form) and her “traditional” French restaurant. Hassan’s father is just as stubborn, which causes some entertaining proverbial mud-slinging to commence until one side goes too far – initiating a violent attack reminiscent of a past incident that claimed the Hindi family’s mother. Weirdly, the film neither explores nor addresses the similarities, an example of how The Hundred-Foot Journey often wedges too many plot points (taken from the novel) without following them all through.
Nevertheless, the film still holds the power to sweep anyone up with Hassan’s passion to explore and expand the world of taste, with the narrative doing a successful job displaying his drive to break down cultural walls and make hard-ass Mallory soften. Perhaps more importantly, Hassan discovers the ultimate joy in cooking comes not in competition, but with collaboration. That muse/rival is played by the gorgeous Charlotte Le Bon, whose eyes can melt a mortal man with one doughy glance.
‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ Movie Times