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The Hundred Foot Journey Review: Charming and Enjoyable

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The Hundred Foot Journey

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The Hundred Foot Journey is less than perfect, that’s for certain. It’s quite enjoyable, though. The characters are likeable and the plot moves along at an easy, but not boring pace. The biggest flaw is that the filmmakers seemed to know where they wanted the characters to end up and had some pacing issues getting there. The story has good momentum then in the last ½ hour the filmmakers seemed to panic and rush to the end. It just feels a little sudden and inadequately supported.
A few weeks back, this writer talked about the fact that people often complain about the lack of diversity in blockbusters, stating that those people who complain should put effort into discovering and supporting smaller films that have diversity to show the studios that people will go see films with diversity. This is one of those films. The white principal characters are women and the men who are principal characters are Indian. No male WASPs who usually dominate mainstream cinema, dominate this film.
The story is about a family of refugees from Mumbai who lost their mother and restaurant in tragic fire, who by chance have their car break down and get help from local woman Marguerite (Charlotte L Bon). They stay in the small French village while their car is being fixed. Papa (Om Puri) stumbles across an abandoned restaurant for sale and decides to purchase it and reclaim his old livelihood. This starts a rivalry with the Proprietor: Madame Mallory (the always Awesome Helen Mirren) of the Restaurant across the street (100 feet away). The rivalry between Madame Mallory and Papa gets somewhat childish and results in an incident of unintentional intensity, but they end up having a few things in common. It is a lot of fun to watch them interact.
The main character of the film is Hassan (Manish Dayal), who has a gift and love for cooking he inherited from his deceased mother. He and Marguerite, who shares his love of cooking, have a sweet flirtation throughout the film. They are truly endearing to watch as are Hassan’s siblings. Another minor criticism of this film is that Hassan’s siblings did not get enough screen time. One good thing about this film is that the Indian characters in this film are not shoved into the background like the Indian characters in Million Dollar Arm where the kids with dreams lost screen time to the story of a rich white guy trying to stay rich. Helen Mirren does not overwhelm the film.
The film has some good messages embedded in the story. It’s better to gain a friend than to keep and enemy. People from different cultures and different points of view can learn a lot from each other and improve their abilities without sacrificing their unique identities. People should never lose sight of why they love what they do. This writer would recommend this film to others and buy the DVD when it comes out. It’s worth seeing.

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