This film and film review I’ll be doing for “The Lunchbox” are dedicated to the fundraisers I’ve been apart of lately within Vancouver, BC and Parksville/Qualicum. BC for Child Haven International. A great reason to donate and the kitchen at the event for the Vancouver dinner created the best potato curry I’ve had in my life. Kudos!
, “The Hundred Foot Journey” is a film created from the book of the same name (written by Richard C. Morais). The story is basic in principal, with an array of a cast selection- two adjacent restaurants go all out for battle in a small town France. One is a lively Indian restaurant, and the other is a classic French, Michelin starred restaurant.
The film starts out telling the story of the main family from India. They owned a busy, well known restaurant back in Mumbai. The mother is slowly teaching one of her boys, Hassan, to take over as chef eventually. He has the natural gift. One night, their happy little bubble bursts, when there were sparks of political difficulty and people revolted. The revolts lead to their restaurant and compound, and whoever is the other side- set fire to everything. Through the flames, a very special part of the family was lost, the mother. It was heart breaking to watch, they created her character in a such a way where you knew exactly how loving she was and how meant she was to be alive, to be thriving.
So the family (or maybe the father in particular) made the choice to move to Europe. The family consisted of 6 members. The father-Papa Kadam, the second-oldest son- Hassan, an older brother, a middle sister and two little ones. Their first home ended up being in London, under a flight path and surrounded by “tasteless vegetables”. It seemed unsuitable for their dreams of having a restaurant. Thus, they ended up moving on to Switzerland and France.
While just passing the border into France, the brakes break (ha) and they are forced off the road in result. Stepping out and feeling flustered, the family is on the edge of breaking. The father steps aside and takes a breather and instantly turns to Hassan to this beautiful view of a small town in France. Kadam looks up to the heavens and asks his wife whether this would be finally the place they would make their new home and I think he got the spiritual yes. This is also the scene where Marguerite, this pretty young thing in a jeep-type car, rolls up to help the stranded family out. They get pulled into town and invited into Marguerite little place. Impressed by the hospitality, but also the quality of the food, everyone one of them is slowly convinced that this wouldn’t be such a horrible place to live.
And that’s how it starts. The next day is spent exploring. They end up checking out this abandoned restaurant/house across the street from this fancy-spancy Michelin starred place. Which they end up buying and slowly fixing up.
There’s an older woman, Madame Mallory, who happens to be the owner of that fancy french joint. There is this ridiculous tension right from the get go. She is put off that anyone would even consider opening up a restaurant right across from her beloved Michelin Awarded establishment. Of course Papa Kadam is like “Who cares, I have every right to be here” and puts all this trust into Hassan, of being this amazing chef who will be beloved by all.
And then the battles of the best start. The restaurants go back and forth, fighting and doing things to disadvantage each other. This ranges from buying all of a certain ingredient from from a certain market vendor to fuck them over, to eventually one side (the french, let’s say) a few of the chefs from the restaurant set flames to the Indian place and spray paints on their fence outside. Hassan is hurt in the process and his hands are damaged.
This pushes Madame Mallory over the edge, and I think it brings her back down to earth. There’s just unforgettable scene where she is outside in the rain, with a soapy water bucket and scrub brush- cleaning everything off. Papa Kadam comes out, and sees this, gives her his umbrella and it was an instant bonding moment. In result, she ends up firing the chefs who did this.
During this, there was a friendship (maybe more, of course more) was growing between Hassan and Marguerite. It started out as two goodlooking people, eyeing each other out and once Hassan figured out that Mrs. M could cook- it was an instant connection. She gave him books and little tips, and he took them and enjoyed them. It was interesting to see. Especially When Hassan was stuck in bed, trying to heal and rest from his burnt hands- he spent the time reading the multitudes of books that Marguerite left for him. He actually ends up hearing through the grapevine the Madame Mallory could judge the quality of the chef, just by an omelette. So that was his plan, he would make her an omelette.
And he does, kindof. Seeing that his hands are burnt and in bandages, he instructs Madame Mallory on how to make it. She is blown away by it and offers him a spot in her kitchens, a chance for him to work his way up. He takes the offer and this is the beginning of how Hassan got food-famous in France.
The next year, he ends up working his way up the ladder in Madame’s restaurant, eventually earning the place some michelin stars and a growing, but tension filled romance with Marguerite followed. Eventually afterwards, he is offered some work in Paris in some of the top restaurants, and everyone back home is more or less proud of him. Madame and Papa share their joys of him, by sharing magazines and newspaper articles. They both bond closer together, eventually even romancing.
Hassan like I said, is a rising star, in this intense, modern molecular restaurant. He’s turned city-slicker model hot. But the last few scenes it just shows him sad and depressed. Missing home and Marguerite. He makes the concious choice to return home and the film ends relatively quickly. He had hatched this plan to partner up with Marguerite and Madame and have a restaurant all together, The films ends as such, everyone happy and eating.
That was the vibe for the entirety of the film. Happy and Eating. Plus everyone falls in love with each other, and everything works out as it should, with room for a potential sequel. It put me into a mood to want to cook more, and to learn more about French cooking, which is a good side effect. For instance, I had no clue about the five mother sauces of French cuisine.
Also, all the main characters of the film were extremely good-looking. Would had been nice if the main characters were on par with what I consider the second characters (older brother, sister, kitchen staff) just to even it out. But don’t get me wrong, I overall enjoyed this film. I sat there warm and bubbly, not minding that it was over 2 hours long. I went with my sister and secretly hidden chocolates we brought prior. i left feeling a little bit more alone then I came in, but only because the romance in the film was set up in a way compared to fairytale i guess. Wanting to find your ultimate equal and having everything work out. 4.5 Stars Oprah!