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    August 29, 2014


    A search for good food, inspired by exquisite taste and backed-up by soulful and eminent self-experience, may come from an origin of thousands of miles away. An elaborately good cultural exchange experience, on the other hand, may only be a hundred steps away. Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom returns to merge both of the qualities into a single gastronomic adventure which makes another attempt on Hollywood’s growing interest of showcasing the West-meet-East (particularly the Indian cultures) fusion. The result “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a lovely movie to watch, but it will not top any of Hallstrom’s hallmarks hits like “Chocolat” or “The Cider House Rules”.

    THE STORY: Based from a novel by Richard C. Morais, the movie opens with a remarkable epitome of human tragedy upon an Indian family. At a young age, Hassan (Manish Dayal) is witness to the death of his mother and the destruction of the family business due to riot. Years after the tragedy, the family decides to try their luck in Europe. A little misadventure in the South of France turns out to be a blessing in disguise. With the availability of quality food and seeing this as a divine providence, Papa decides to open an Indian restaurant in the village. But there is a problem. Their new restaurant is just across the street of an upscale Michelin-starred French restaurant, operated by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). And the rest is the classical cultural and business clashes.

    ACROSS THE DIVIDED WALL: Written and adapted by Steven Knight, whose resume includes “Locke” and “Eastern Promises”, this fish out of water dramedy offers a convincing plot which is filled with genuinely-felt, crowd-pleasing and giddy social moments that builds on with slow and polite pacing. The main attraction in this movie is largely on the culture indifferences that take into the centre stage. There is a fair rivalry between the hot, spicy-rich Indian cuisine and the elegance French cuisine. There is also a rivalry in between the ethnicity and customary, but thankfully it did not go till the extreme. The expression of food is very much embraced as an art and it hardly looks uncomfortable to go around with the niche of the character’s template. Everything looks even better with A.R. Rahman’s contemporary scores tantalizing the mood with tranquility and abundance.

    While the movie offers so much that will likely to please you, the major problematic aspects seen are the indefinitely predictable and stereotypical natures of the story. By the way the movie kicks in and brings it out, we are left with not much of a surprise to learn and to watch how the roads are paved for the characters. A young and rising unconventional chef, a romantic hurdles transcending across the cultural divide, the exact portrayal of national pride, and so on, serves all the plot details. I find it difficult to enjoy some of the direction of the numerous side-stories, which becomes very obvious in the third act that there are some suspicious thoughts of unpleasantness and scrappy moments.

    Even if it is not perfect, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a lovely movie to watch, a tasty foodgasmic affair not to be missed and an explicit-yet-orthodox ethnic examination in the growing trend of West-meet-East fusion movie. Two-Michelin stars indeed.

    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 4.5
    Effects: 3.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 15.5/20.0

    "The Hundred-Foot Journey" stars Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri and Charlotte Le Bon; presented by Walt Disney Pictures; directed by Lasse Hallstrom from the screenplay by Steven Knights based on a novel by Richard C. Morais. The movie is rated P13 and was released in Malaysia since August 28, 2014. The movie runs about 122 minutes.
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