Star Rating:

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Actors: Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Helen Mirren

Release Date: Saturday 30th November 2013

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 122 minutes

The double whammy producing tag-team of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey should dictate the level of sophisticated sentimentality that’s going to be on offer here. Also taking into account that director Lasse Hallstrom has already given us a “new food maker in a small French town shakes up the locals' boring lives” with Chocolat, and it’s clear from the get go that The Hundred Foot Journey isn’t really going to be adding any new ingredients into the mix.

Escaping civil unrest back in India, the Kadam family flee Asia and after a sojourn in England, they end up setting up shop in a French village, eventually buying a run-down property to open a new Indian restaurant. One major problem though; they will be directly competing with a Michelin-star winning French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, channeling her inner Devil Wears Prada-esque Meryl Streep), which operates just one hundred feet from their own front door.

As the supernaturally talented head-chef Hassan (Manish Dayal, decent), he is unfortunately belabored with serving up some of the cheesiest dialogue known to man, with lines like “Food is memories”, “Cooking is about tasting ghosts” and “Every bite takes you home” all worthy of a groan. Some of the plot turns are a little too extreme – competing chefs suddenly turn into arson-based terrorists – and then there’s the fact that a brand new story-line kicks in just as the film should be wrapping up.

Still though, Hallstrom makes the whole thing look quite pretty, while the normally gritty screenwriter Steven Knight (Locke, Eastern Promises) keeps things moving along with an easy charm. Mention must also go to Mirren and Dayal, as well Om Puri as the clichéd, heavy-handed family patriarch and Charlotte Le Bon as Hassan’s potential love interest, all providing winning performances throughout.

Unlike the folks within the movie, this isn’t going to win any awards, as it is the cinematic equivalent of comfort eating, with the oven set to “easy watching”. (That's probably enough cooking puns for one day...)