For the perfect French-themed film, you need gorgeous locations, a stellar cast and a world-class director. The Hundred-Foot Journey has all that and more – cardamom, cumin and turmeric, to be precise.
Now out on DVD and Bluray, Lasse Hallström’s film adds some sweet to the spice of clashing cultures in southern France.
Set in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the Tarn-et-Garonne département of the Midi-Pyrénées, the film has the Kadam family in one corner of the culinary ring and Madame Mallory in the other.
The Kadams arrive in the village by chance when their van breaks down. They have fled first India, because of political tensions, and then west London, because the cold weather and life beneath Heathrow’s flight path proved unbearable.
They are rescued by Marguerite, a sous-chef at Madame Mallory’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur. Enchanted by the village, the Kadams soon set about opening an Indian restaurant there. The building they choose is directly over the road from snooty Madame Mallory’s eaterie.
To say she is not best pleased is an understatement.
Played by Helen Mirren, Madame Mallory does her best to make life difficult for the newcomers. She evens buys up all the ingredients they’ll need from the local market on the day their restaurant is due to open.
Mirren is great – as always – and reveals a good command of French. While the majority of her lines are delivered in accented Ingleesh, she also speaks confidently in French.
“When the Kadam family’s son, Hassan, falls for both French cuisine and for Marguerite, the story develops a heart”
When the Kadam family’s talented chef son, Hassan, falls for both French cuisine and for Marguerite, the story develops a heart. Without wishing to give the plot away, theirs proves not to be the only romance.
The originality of this film lies in its setting, rather than in its story. When push comes to shove, it is a hefty slice of cinematic comfort food.