Fazzana Dua Elahe, Manish Dyal, Dame Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Amit Shah - The Hundred Foot Journey - UK gala screening held at the Curzon Mayfair cinema - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 3rd September 2014
A relentlessly smiley-glowy tone threatens to undo this film at every turn, but it's just about rescued by a spiky script and the adept cast. Director Lasse Hallstrom has been indulging in warm-fuzzy filmmaking since 2000's Chocolat, and this story (based on the Richard Morais book) seems set in the same fanciful, far too-cute France, created with digital effects rather than cinematography. Nothing is remotely realistic, but the characters are engaging and the food looks absolutely delicious. This is definitely not a film to see on an empty stomach.
The central character is Hassan (90210's Manish Dayal), who was born in India and developed his prodigious gift as a chef with his late mother. Now refugees in Europe, Hassan's Papa (Om Puri) is on a quest to establish a restaurant with his five children. They settle on an impossibly quaint French village, and set up their Indian eatery just across the road from the Michelin-starred restaurant run by the imperious Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who of course immediately declares war on these interlopers. Meanwhile, Hassan begins exploring French cookery with Mallory's sexy sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). And his innate expertise catches Mallory's attention.
This simple twist helps propel the story and draw us in, as Hassan proves that he can teach Mallory a thing or two. Where this goes is played out in a simplistic way, but for audience members who are looking for meaning there's quite a bit of insight scattered around the script. Otherwise, Hallstrom is far more interested in superficial imagery, never quite letting the actors dig deep into their characters. Dayal shows some real texture as Hassan, but is reduced in the editing to merely smiling or frowning to show the character's frame of mind. And his relationship with Le Bon's impossibly perky Marguerite is almost painfully predictable.
Continue reading: The Hundred-Foot Journey Review
Yet more cast and crew members from food drama movie 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' were spotted at the film's New York premiere held at Ziegfeld Theater, including leading actors and actresses Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Farzana Dua Elahe and Amit Shah.
Talking about upcoming restaurent drama 'The Hundred Foot Journey', producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, director Lasse Hallstrom and star Helen Mirren reveal their thoughts in a short featurette.
'This really is a story about the fusion between two opposite cultures', says Steven, with Oprah explaining of the film's plot: 'The icy Madame Mallory, the owner of the very proper Michelin-starred French restaurent, doesn't allow for any kind of competition whatsoever.' Helen reveals that within the clashing of two food cultures 'it's a feud that becomes a war - and no holds barred actually'.
The Hundred Foot Journey is a drama directed by Lasse Hallström (Dear John/Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and written by Steven Knight.
Based on the novel of the same name by Richard C. Morals, The Hundred-Foot Journey sees an Indian family start a new life in France, where they intend to open a family business in the form of a restaurant, however the top restaurant in the south of France is opposite the restaurant the family buy, owned by the fiercely competitive Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). This gives the family little chance of being successful, yet they persist with it exposing the French to food they won't have tasted before. When Mallory becomes aware of this, she bitterly attempts to slow down business for their restaurant, i.e. by making snide remarks about the restaurant to her customers. Over time though, the two restaurants become friends, with Mallory even offering Hassan (Manish Dayal) of the Indian family, a job at her restaurant. But how will his father (Om Puri) feel about this?
The film came about when producer Oprah Winfrey became a fan of the script, and encouraged Steven Spielberg to make an adaptation of the novel, who she knew from working with on The Color Purple. Spielberg searched for a director he thought would be good for the role and so he found Hallström, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his adaptation of The Cider House Rules, by John Irving.
Astutely combining sharp comedy with complex political and theological issues, this film is packed with strong themes and vivid characters that keep us interested even as the plot drifts into silly slapstick.
London cabbie Mahmud (Djalili) is a loving family man and a relaxed Muslim whose son Rashid (Shah) wants to marry the step-daughter (Radford) of a radical Imam (Naor). But just as Mahmud is trying to behave like a better Muslim, he discovers that his birth parents were Jewish. Suddenly, his whole world shifts on its axis, and he turns to rival Jewish cabbie Lenny (Schiff) for advice.
He's also understandably terrified to tell his family the truth, although his wife (Panjabi) suspects that something's up.
While Baddiel's smart, funny script probes the comical possibilities, Appignanesi's direction continually looks for sight gags and rude jokes. The result is a little uneven: even though these two elements come together often, the wacky physical humour sometimes undermines the more provocative themes. On the other hand, this approach keeps us nicely off-balance, never quite sure where the story might go while allowing the cast to make the most of their characters.
Most enjoyable, and telling, is the way this news causes Mahmud to see the world through different eyes. Not only is this amusing, but it also challenges our own perspective on the world around us. Djalili plays this cleverly; we can understand why Mahmud finds it impossible to continue hating Jews. Watching him try to become a better Muslim even as he's studying Judaism is pretty intense, although it's basically played for laughs. When Lenny welcomes Mahmud to "the worldwide conspiracy", it's a joke. Right?
These elements make the film much more meaningful than most comedies, and add offbeat details to the characters and situations. So it's a bit frustrating when the plot takes over in the final act, weaving in a side-story from early on that we knew would come back later, then heading for a big showdown that feels like it was grafted on from Hollywood script-writing software. This milks the emotions more than was necessary, but even here the corny slapstick is intermingled with theology, giving the whole film a potent kick.
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