By Ellen Garnett
If you are looking for a heartwarming movie with a handsome and talented guy, then you should go see the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” But the movie certainly does more than provide eye candy. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is an inspiring piece that showcases the power of love and determination to transcend cultural differences.
The movie centers around a close-knit Indian family who, after a devastating fire, decides to move to Europe to start over. When their van’s brakes fail in a small town in France, the Kadam family takes up the hospitality of a local cook, Margeurite (Charlotte Le Bon) who welcomes them to the neighborhood.
Papa Kadam (Om Puri) decides to buy an abandoned restaurant across from a very successful French restaurant that has beaten out every restaurant that mas moved in on the other side of the street for a long time. When Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of the French restaurant, finds out that she has new competition, she begins a food rivalry that Chef Gordon Ramsay would applaud.
Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), the 18-year-old protagonist, has a passion for cooking that he maintains after the loss of his mother. Just like his mother, he has a way of making food “have soul.” He becomes the head chef at his father’s restaurant Maison Mumbai, named after the restaurant the Kadam family managed back in Mumbai, India.
After watching the movie, I really had to ponder what I loved about it. There were so many little aspects, but the main elements I enjoyed were the mise en scène that conveyed the main messages of the movie.
One scene that accomplishes this perfectly is in the middle of the movie, involving Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam. It is raining and Madame Mallory walks over to the Kadam family’s rock wall with a bucket of water and a scubbing brush. With the rain pouring down on her, she scrubs the graffiti off of her rival’s vandalized wall. When Papa approaches her, he gives her his umbrella.
This scene illustrates a moment of catharsis for both characters, as each is able to put aside their differences for the well-being of their neighbor. The rain washes them clean of their past insults and restaurant rivalry.
Another clever scene shows the two characters sitting across from eachother discussing Hassan’s future as a potential employee for Madame Mallory. There is a medium camera shot of the two characters sitting directly across from eachother at the table, with a far-off wall fixture dividing them. Through this camera shot, the movie implies that each character is on completely opposite sides of the conversation.
When Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam come to an agreement, they shake hands at the middle of the table, which breaks the surface of the divider, thus symbolizing compromise. This was a case of clever prop positioning and camera angle usage.
Besides the mise en scène of the movie, I really appreciated that the movie features a male protagonist who rebels against the stereotype that only women belong in the kitchen. This is still a stereotype that exists in many countries, but especially India.
I would also be interested in watching an alternate version of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” where the Kadam family stays in India and Hassan must decide if he will follow his passion for cooking or follow the status quo of doing a typically-male job. I am, however, happy that Hassan has the opportunity to pursue his love of food by moving to France, a country with more liberal customs.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” highlights the importance of broadening our perspectives of the world by traveling outside our homes, where there are different traditions and people with various beliefs. It is through experiencing another culture that we might gain a better understanding ourselves and, ultimately, the world around us.