The Hundred-Foot Journey [2014] ★★★

The_Hundred_Foot_Journey_(film)_posterWhen a film about food has a solid cast led by the amazing Helen Mirren, you can’t go far wrong, which is exactly the case with Steven Knight’s adaptation of Richard C. Morais’ successful book. And who better to direct this delightful piece than Lasse Hallstrom, the man responsible for such films as “Chocolat”, “The Cider House Rules” and the underrated “Casanova” with the late Heath Ledger? The story focuses on an Indian family that unexpectedly settles in a small French village. There, they decide to open a restaurant right across the road from a celebrated french establishment run by Madame Mallory (Hellen Mirren). Her restaurant is very famous in that area, and we learn right away that she doesn’t like “intruders”. With a lesser cast, this would be a lineup of TV-movie clichés. But this is a cast that never makes a false move even when the script settles for formula. Then there is France itself, which exerts a constant allure. As the members of the Indian family adjust to their new surroundings, the film gathers an appealingly buoyant spirit. Hallstrom, who directed Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche in his Oscar nominated “Chocolat”,  shows a sure hand with all his actors. Mirren is a resilient marvel. And watching her and Om Puri (who plays the patriarch of the Indian family) mix it up is a treat. The tone of the movie subtly changes from time to time, but Hallstrom never missteps, and the results are both entertaining and believable. Here is yet another “small” movie that puts Hollywood’s blockbusters to shame this summer. Go see it.

Rating: 3/4

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