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The Hundred-Foot Journey: A hunger provoking, visually stunning film

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A sneak preview to the well-publicized Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey produced “food themed” The Hundred-Foot Journey film had me craving Chef Floyd Cardoz’s Indian and French food creations and more of Linus Sandgren’s luscious cinematography. With the official world premiere just held in New York and general release of the movie today, The Hundred-Foot Journey is well on its own path.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey directed by Lasse Hallström, a former cinematographer himself, has put his special visual stamp on his movies; The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and now The Hundred-Foot Journey. Given the locales of India, rich with bright colors and earthy tones and southern France’s quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val’s green valley and L’Aveyron River one wants to grab their passport and visit both.

There is no denying that food is one of the leading characters in this film of a budding Indian culinary talent who learns French technique from a cookbook, finds a mentor and Michelin stars. Chef Cardoz, the former executive chef of New York City’s Tabla Restaurant and 2011 Top Chef Masters’ winner had never styled food for a movie previously; it was his connection with the book’s author that had him based in Paris for five days creating the Indian and French food filmed in the Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val scenes. “All the food was real, nothing fake” quips Cardoz. Chef Cardoz expands, “The director, Lasse Hallström did a great job celebrating Indian and French cuisine with all their idiosyncrasies.” Cardoz is on his own personal journey with a new restaurant scheduled to open in New York City in September, a restaurant in Bombay and an eye to creating his own product line.

The story based on Richard Morais’s book The Hundred-Foot Journey and screenplay by Steven Knight follows an Indian patriarch Papa Kadam, played by Omi Puri, and his family on a journey from Mumbai to find a new beginning after the wife was killed in a rebellion. The wife and mother was the chef at their restaurant and instilled the love of food in her son Hassan, played by newcomer Manish Dayal. With that the family sets off on a road trip where serendipity brings them to France’s Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val.

Papa Kadam sees and buys a run-down, abandoned restaurant just 100 feet across the road from a celebrated Michelin starred restaurant. The very proper, staid proprietress, Madame Mallory played by the ever-so-talented Helen Mirren starts stirring the proverbial pot with snide remarks, complaints to the mayor and underhanded food hoarding. Eventually when a pot is stirred something wonderful results as did the battling Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam, a mutual respect and admiration.

One of my favorite scenes is when papa deliberately buys up all the quails so Madame Mallory is unable to serve the visiting French dignitary his favorite dish. Hassan makes that dish and takes it the 100 feet across the road to Madame Mallory’s restaurant, he stands there back lit with light glowing around his head, almost saintly.

In the movie, passage of time is cleverly designated by fireworks on Bastille Day but the movie itself a tad long at just over two hours or maybe I was just so hungry after mentally tasting all the mouth-watering food.

There are numerous journeys for you to discover that all the characters take in one form or another not just the jaunt across the 100 feet from one restaurant to another. The movie is a must for women, date night, and those who are passionate about food. There is humor and pathos in The Hundred-Food Journey so fair warning to bring some tissues. Be sure to eat before going, sneak in great snacks or have reservations to dine when the movie is over.

The Hundred-Foot Journey - www.dreamworksstudios.com/films/the-hundred-foot-journey - In movie theaters as of August 8, 2014.

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