In The Hundred-Foot Journey, Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren), gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own, escalate to all out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), combine with his mysteriously delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Mme. Mallory cannot ignore. At first Mme. Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.
My Opinion: If only this film was as fulfilling as the food produced by Hassan. In culinary terms, for most of the film, The Hundred-Foot Journey is light and fluffy, like a perfectly-cooking soufflé. Now, the soufflé may be a bit bland at times, and it does little to challenge one’s palate, but it’s certainly inoffensive. It’s an approach to race relations that plays like The Help – pleasing for primarily white audiences, without digging deeper into the issues the film brings up. Unfortunately, the film is marred by a final act that not only drags, but seems unnecessary. Soufflé: deflated.