The Hundred Foot Journey – This food looks good

by Yo Snyder

When Hundred Foot Journey was announced, I instantly thought of how much my dear ol’ ma would enjoy the film.  And enjoy it she did.  Let me jump right to it, she walked out of the movie stating, and I paraphrase “First movie this year that didn’t have a single issue, I loved it!”  While I may not take such a bold stance, I was very pleased with how much enjoyment my mom found in the movie.  Hundred Foot Journey is the latest Oprah book list hit turned movie (and appropriately produced by Oprah who partnered up with Steven Spielberg – side note, is there anything Spielberg is not producing these days??).  With major backing, this book turned movie had all the potential to be a major drama hit, and capitalize on that support it did.  First, star power!  Lasse Hallstrom directs and Steven Knight writes, both have an impressive drama background such as Chocolat.  Leading actress, Helen Mirren continues to impress me, is there anything this lady can’t do?  From assassin in RED, to aristocratic Queen, she is an absolutely amazing actress.  To round out the cast are some new comers such as Dayal who takes on the lead role of Hassan.

Hassan is carefully set up as a food prodigy.  From an early age, he discovers how flavors and smells of food can lead to culinary excellence.  His mother trains him and he takes his skills to Europe after his Indian home is burned down in a political rivalry.  Here is where the second major contribution of the producers come in, the settings.  The small French town Hassan settles in is nothing short of a second character in the movie with its beauty and unique architecture.  The movie makes use of the country side to develop the movie in a unique way that I really enjoyed.  Another key feature in the movie of course is FOOD!  I have seen a lot of movies make use of food as a character, but this movie took it a step further.  Not only was food prominently featured but it was used to evoke specific feelings, from a scene where the use of food clearly leaves you angry to others which leave you feeling pleasant and in love… food takes center stage.  Colors, textures, dare I say, flavors come alive to give food its own role to play. 

Funny thing, about half way into the movie, Hassan is set up against the up and coming women in a famous french restaurant where a relationship is developing and I looked over to my mom and said, we are watching the real life version of Ratatouille!  And if ever there was another movie to bring alive food and french flair, it was indeed a cartoon.  This says a lot for Hundred Foot Journey, as Ratatouille is one of my all time favorite cartoons.  There are some other great themes explored as part of the movie such as forgiveness, love, and importance of family relationships.  And I admit, these topics are handled well.  One question the movie attempts to ask is, can you pursue your talent(s) apart from those you love and find satisfaction?  I can’t help but see this as a great parallel for Christ.  Can we pursue our passions or talents apart from God and find satisfaction?  The world would say, absolutely!  But we know the source of those talents and passions is the creator who gave them to us, and apart from him, they can never be enjoyed as they are meant to be.  Hassan is faced with a similar question, given unlimited resources and fame around his talent to cook, will he be happy apart from those he loves?

There are couple of things that rubbed me wrong (only slightly) in this movie.  The ending felt a bit rushed after such a perfectly paced film but not so much so as to detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.  Also, the film is clean, its a very family friendly movie except for one implied act of sensuality which could have been avoided.  Otherwise, this is a solid and very enjoyable film!  I smiled a lot, my mom and I high fived a couple of times, and both walked out with ear to ear grins.  It is always a joy to walk out of a movie feeling better than when  you walked in.

6 out of 7 – the movie is rated PG and has a brief scene of violence and a scene of implied sensuality, otherwise this movie is about a family friendly as they come.  And hits on great themes of revenge, forgiveness, right and wrong.