Swedish director Lasse Hallström has a reputation for serving up the cinematic equivalent of comfort food – witness the likes of Chocolat and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – but if that is your fare of choice then his culinary culture-clash comedy The Hundred-Foot Journey will go down a treat.
Based on a novel by Richard C Morais, the film takes place in a small, picturesque, remarkably Anglophone village in the South of France and its clashing cuisines are embodied by Helen Mirren’s Madame Mallory, snooty owner of the village’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur, and Om Puri’s stubborn Indian paterfamilias Kadam, the head of an uprooted family from the sub-continent that has pitched up in the village by chance.
When Kadam, himself a restaurateur in his native Mumbai, opens an Indian restaurant of his own directly across the street from Madame Mallory’s swanky establishment, the stage is set for a tit-for-tat battle of wills – until Kadam’s talented chef son Hassan (Manish Dayal) falls both for French haute cuisine and for Le Saule Pleureur’s pretty sous-chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon).
The Hundred-Foot Journey is cosy and predictable, the Franglais accents are more than a tad overripe and the plot definitely goes off the boil midway through, but Puri and Mirren’s delicious odd-couple chemistry – he with a nose like a turnip, she with a mouth like a prune – makes the film immensely watchable.
Certificate PG. Runtime 122 mins. Director Lasse Hallström.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.