This summer’s box office began and is ending with food-loving cinema. Released on Aug. 8, 2014, approximately two months after the release of Jon Favreau’s surprisingly lovely “Chef,” “The Hundred-Foot Journey” caters to an older audience with its classic cuisine over Favreau’s fun food trucks. Director Lasse Halstrom (“Chocolat” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”) returns to a more palatable film after a few years of poor choices, but “The Hundred-Foot Journey” diverges very far from its source material, losing the spice of life and passion by overemphasizing a romance and removing Hassan’s later endeavors.
Spending his childhood in a family run restaurant in India, Hassan (Manish Dayal) grew up comfortable in the kitchen and nurturing his talented palate. After his mother’s death, Hassan’s father (Om Puri) moves the family to Europe to start a new life. They find themselves in a small town in France when their van breaks down seemingly by fate and Papa decides to buy and start an Indian restaurant, though a famous Michelin-starred restaurant lies just one hundred feet away and is run by stubborn Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Encouraged by a sous chef that works for Mallory, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), Hassan studies French cuisine during his spare time when not running the kitchen of his father’s restaurant. When the battle for dominant restaurant is taken too far, the war injures Hassan but opens Mallory’s heart; the feud ends when Mallory hires Hassan to give him a proper training for success.
For purists, the adaptation of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is vastly different. Helen Mirren may not fit the description in the novel, but she, as always, plays her role with grace and personality. Unfortunately, the film relies on overdramatizing some events and changing others entirely.
Emphasizing a tangential romance in the novel, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” transforms into more of a love story than the development of the novel’s chef. Neglecting the novel’s culinary passion, the movie deteriorates into a simple, feel-good film without any inspiration. Even though “Chef” goofs around, it earns a far superior level of salivation while maintaining warm, relatable bonds between the characters.
If you just want to watch a sweet, beautifully shot film, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” earns a thumbs up but is not “Michelin star” quality. If you’re the kind of person that sits around watching Food Network, skip this film and either read the novel or watch “Chef.”
Rating for “The Hundred-Foot Journey:” B
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is playing across Columbus, including at AMC Lennox and Easton. For showtimes, click here.