"Outstanding! A completely engaging human story heavily larded with the lushest, most high-test food porn since Zola. Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking," said Anthony Bourdain, macho food authoritarian, about the The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais.
And Oprah Winfrey, the macha spokeswoman for all things buoyant, so loved the book that she decided to make the movie.
To accomplish this gastronomic feat, Winfrey partnered with Steven Spielberg to convert the story into an international familial film, fête and feast. They hired über Swedish director, writer and cinematographer, Lasse Hallström, (of Chocolat confection fame) and a phalanx of chefs - classic French, archetypal Indian and contemporary molecular. Indian composer A.R. Rahman adeptly seasoned the soundtrack.
Dodging spoilers, the Kadam family recently lost their mum and her restaurant in a deadly Mumbai fire. Scouring the world for a new start, Papa and his offspring land in France. Overly endowed with cooking genes, the family seeks to establish a new Indian eatery and to regenerate their lost lives. The perfect location in the lavishly verdant fertile French countryside happens to be one hundred steps from the haute Michelin starred Le Saule Pleureur commanded by Madame Mallory.
Conflict and competition commences. French snobbery versus Indian joie de vivre. One stuffy dame versus five lively kids. Subtle monochrome sauces versus startling radiant spices. Symphonic harmony versus pulsing percussions. And more...
Meanwhile, the kitchen stews in its own juices. Dueling chefs, unsavory comportment, sneaky sabotage, and slow simmering affections.
Sumptuous bountiful culinary artistry embellishes the screen and the story. (Make serious dinner reservations for after the movie or stuff yourself silly before.)
The august cast includes Helen Mirren (Madame Mallory), of veritable Russian nobility, who once more brings her aristocratic bearing to the screen, this time as the snooty French restaurateur.
Om Puri (Papa) of India is Bollywood royalty. Internationally renowned, his venerable acting is comparable to Mirren's. Both share on-screen charisma, chameleon skills and still soaring careers. (Lucky us.)
The young cast features two fresh young North American actors: Manish Dayal, a second generation Indian from South Carolina (who plays Hassan, eldest son and aspiring top chef), and Charlotte Le Bon, a French-Canadian (Marguerite, Madame's equally ambitious chef tirelessly struggling in a Frenchman's trade).
Those folks who know the work of Steven Knight, (he authored this script), and want another provocative exploration of the brutal immigrant experience (as seen in his earlier screenplays Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things) will be deeply disappointed. The sugared-down theme of The Hundred-Foot Journey aligns better with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Winfrey and Spielberg present a buffet of reminisces about the evolution of the film. And nibblets from a multitude of talents who created the film sate the viewers who are still hungry.
For the foodies among us, there is additional footage devoted to the flick's culinary accomplishments in the "Recipes, the Ingredients and the Journey." The hilarity and comradery on set, plus the never-ending, ever-appearing, always-appealing epicurean dishes were indescribably infectious and appetizing. You will be happy to see the movie, you will be happier to see the culinary bonus extras, but, in truth, you will yearn to be there - in person - at the table.
Alas, you will have to do it yourself. Just follow the DVD's Delicious Extra: a cooking video for making Coconut Chicken. Yum.
If you are in the mood for an Indian nosh while sharing this mouth watering film, click the image for a Vadouvan Naan Bread with Salted Coconut Butter Recipe.
As a holiday bonus, we have one Blu-ray copy of The Hundred-Foot Journey that we will send to the first lucky person who requests it. (Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon and Farzana Dua Elahe
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