Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Regal: Please stop showing that terrible extended preview for When the Game Stands Tall before every movie. Aside from just not looking very good - and it has the appearance of a terrible movie - concentrating so much on the steak seems kind of tone-deaf. Oh, the high school jocks who are probably worshipped more than is healthy even by Texas football standards lost their first game in twelve years and you're talking about adversity? Screw. You.

(And, everyone? Stop showing that Dracula Untold preview for any reason.)

So much negativity. I also feel like I bag on director Lasse Hallström's reputation more than I should here; I'm pretty sure that his career is more than studio films meant to look indie, but I'll be darned if I can remember the rest.

Sorry, again. Mediocre studio films after a month of awesome genre eccentricity shouldn't make me so cranky.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 12 August 2014 in Regal Fenway #4 (first-run, DCP)

Good food is wasted on me, but I can generally enjoy a good food movie as much as anyone. But for all that it talks a good game about spice and creativity, The Hundred-Foot Journey is rather bland fare. It looks nice enough, but it meanders never finds something that will grab the audience, despite trying a bit of everything.

That meandering starts early on, as the Kadam family arrives in Europe at Rotterdam, having first fled India when their restaurant burned down after a disputed election, then spent a year in London in between. Their car breaks down in a French village, where "Papa" (On Puri) decides to purchase a vacant restaurant and open it with son Hassan (Manish Dayal) cooking. One of the reasons this space is so affordable is that it's directly across the street from a traditional French place with a Michelin star, and while Hassan and sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) become fast friends, owner Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) is none too enamored with the new neighbors. Hassan developing an interest in French cuisine just complicates things.

I'm curious about the Richard C. Morias novel that screenwriter Steven Knight and director Lasse Hallström adapted. Is it thick with subplots for Hassan's four siblings (or is that three siblings and his sister's husband)? Are the three distinct phases of the story more well-balanced, with at least one character seeming like an active participant in each? As it stands, the film feels like the filmmakers had dozens of ideas that needed to either be fleshed out or pruned away to give the rest some room. It hurts the film two ways, on the one hand connecting the movie's parts with thin threads, and on the other blunting the moments that should be sharp. Especially at the center, when a certain bit of history repeating should yield a much more dramatic reaction from the Kadams while Mme. Mallory's dissection of some of the lyrics to "La Marseillaise" seems like the end of the film having anything to say about European xenophobia, rather than the beginning.

Full review at EFC

No comments: