Friday, 12 September 2014

Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

World of Blackout Film Review

The Hundred-Foot Journey Poster

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Cert: PG / 122 mins / Dir. Lasse Hallström
WoB Rating: 3/7

So, since I'm not one for either seeking oddly specific guidance from the afterlife, or enjoying watching people grunting while they stuff their mouths with food, I suspect that I'm not really the target demographic for this movie. Just thought I'd get that out of the way at the top, yeah?

A 'Helen Mirren stars as a cold-hearted busybody who eventually changes her ways after blah blah blah' vehicle, The Hundred-Foot Journey isn't at all without charm, but more often than not the film feels like it's trying far too hard to be endearing. The first two acts would be perfectly acceptable if it wasn't for Mirren playing the pantomime villain, and pretty much all of the Kadam family having to over-act in return (although Manish Dayal as the film's lead, Hassan, manages to escape largely unscathed). Cinematographer Linus Sandgren runs a very quiet camera which sets each scene perfectly in the rustic French village where the two restaurants face each other, like a culinary Never The Twain. Additionally, Allah-Rakha Rahman's score underlines these visuals beautifully. It's just a shame that the storyline and its themes are often laid on with a trowel instead of a teaspoon.

In its final act, The Hundred Foot Journey can't seem to decide if it wants to be a tale of romance or redemption, which derails things a little as there really isn't room for both here, especially as Charlotte Le Bon's borderline-unlikeable chef and love-interest, Marguerite, hasn't built up enough audience goodwill over the the film to carry off her contrary character turn. And after almost two hours of playing with itself whilst handling the food, the film has the sheer fucking audacity to finish by make snarky asides about the haute cuisine of Paris. Like the callbacks to The Omelette™ and Pigeon In Truffle Sauce™, any of the script's attempts at delicacy are about as convincing as being brought a bag of McDonalds in The Ivy.

Not quite as twee as the advance material might suggest, but The Hundred-Foot Journey doesn't manage to be as heartwarming or inspirational, either. By no means a bad film, but viewers are more likely to get more recipe ideas from this than they are philosophical sustenance…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
The film is somehow nowhere near as unbearable as the trailer, and yet that's not entirely a good thing. Somehow.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Sometimes. A bit. Not as often as Lasse Hallström intended, though.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
For me, no. Your mileage will vary.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Whatever, it'll be £4 on DVD within a year, and if it is going to change your life, it won't be the size of the screen that seals the deal.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not really. Although I will raise an eyebrow if you tell me it's the best film you've ever seen.

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I thought I might have heard one during the firebomb attack on the restaurant in the opening scenes, but I'll side with no.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
So, how many Charming And Heartwarming Fables™ have you seen where a racist firebomb attack on a social and ethnic minority is resolved with a scrubbing brush, an understanding nod and absolutely no police involvement whatsoever..?
Because I've seen one. Now.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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