Lasse Hallstrom directed this thoroughly charming film starring talented pros Helen Mirren and Om Puri. Written by Steven Knight, based on a Richard C. Morais novel, the film revolves around interesting characters and delicious food, a great combination.
Puri plays Papa Kadam, the head of a family who flees from India after a political riot burns down their restaurant. They travel around Europe in a broken down van looking for a home for themselves and a place to open a new restaurant. When the brakes give out in a little town in the south of France, Papa believes it's a sign that this is the perfect spot for them settle down.
Papa leases a rundown building and the family moves in upstairs. They remodel the downstairs to house a restaurant serving Indian cuisine prepared by his son, Hassan (Manish Dayal). He has a passion for cooking and loves combining the strong flavors of his country with a delicate hand — he's a gifted chef.
Everything seems to be falling into place perfectly, except that the location of Papa's new place is 100 feet from an elegant, Michelin-starred restaurant owned by Madame Mallory (Mirren). She is appalled by the loud music being piped outside, the unsophisticated menu and by Papa himself. The two embark on a feud where he antagonizes her and she reports him daily to the local Mayor. This goes on for a while until the two discover they really enjoy one another's company.
Hassan also has more on his plate than the spices his mother left him, he's attracted to Madame's sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), and besides seeking her out to question her about local ingredients, he bats his extraordinarily large brown eyes at her until the two start a romance.
There's a lot of food preparation going on here, as you might suspect in a film that revolves around two rival restaurants located across the street from one another. But, the actors are the best thing about the film. Mirren is good at playing a woman who is reserved and icy, but is willing to thaw out a bit for the right gentleman. And Puri is the right guy to do it. He's stubborn and sweet at the same time, and together they're delightful.
Its great to find a summer release that gives us a break from science fiction, explosions and automatic weapons. The 100 Foot Journey is a charming film that shows delicious food, has interesting characters and puts them both in a beautiful setting...I was happy to partake.