The Hundred-Foot Journey, film review: Fiery performances from Helen Mirren and Om Puri in culinary culture-clash comedy

(PG) Lasse Hallström, 122 mins Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon, Manish Dayal

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 04 September 2014 23:25
French fancy: Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey
French fancy: Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a culinary culture-clash comedy enlivened by fiery performances from Helen Mirren and Om Puri but which, like so many other Lasse Hallström films, slowly turns to gloop the longer it lasts.

Puri is as funny here as he was in East Is East and My Son the Fanatic. He plays the patriarch of an Indian family which has moved to Europe after their restaurant in Mumbai is destroyed in a riot. His wife has died in the fire. The family first set up home in West London but quickly decide that the "vegetables have no soul".

When their rickety old van breaks down in an idyllic village in the south of France, Papa (Puri) decides this is a sign that the family should open an Indian restaurant there. The hitch is that their premises are bang opposite the Michelin-starred restaurant run by the imperious Madame Mallory (Mirren).

It is a pleasure to watch two such accomplished scene-stealers as Mirren and Puri vying with each other on screen. After a while, we even get used to Mirren's 'Allo 'Allo-style French accent.

Papa's son Hassan (Manish Dayal) is a genius in the kitchen who eventually masters French cuisine and falls in love with the beautiful French chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon).

Hallström shoots the movie in his usual picture-postcard fashion, throwing in shots of gorgeous French landscapes and plenty of fetishistic close- ups of the food. The charm of the early scenes is undermined by the mushiness and predictability with which the rest of the film unfolds.

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