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Attica

the Hundred Foot Journey

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I can hardly believe that this film hasn't already been mentioned (at least that I could find.) 

 

I thought that it was a wonderful film.  In a sense it had me thinking of Babette's Feast with it's love of food and cooking as an artform and the richness therein.  The cooking and food in this film was almost it's own character.  There was also a richness of character in the landscape, and of course in the people and their interactions.

 

As well the film had some insights on culture clash and family.  I really think that this is a film which some people here would enjoy.

 

 

 

Edited by Attica

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I had the most disorienting experience of going to a movie on Saturday and running into five good friends who were exiting the theater. They had just seen this movie and were raving about it and, to the astonishment of everyone, I had never even heard of it.

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Am I going to be the grouchy contrarian?  Oh well...

 

It's a nice movie with a good intention, and the French countryside looks beautiful, but there are several major, glaring flaws.

 

1) Mirren is way too nasty initially.  When Hassan and his family first arrive she's as cruel as Salieri in Amadeus.  Then after one scene, she has a complete change of heart and becomes a sort of stern Mrs. Potts.

 

2) The last half hour is a coda completely out of right field, that does nothing to develop the story or the characters, and really does not relate to the rest of the film other than to delay a totally obvious ending.

 

3) Hassan never has any struggles or set backs.  He constantly says that he would never have succeeded without Mirren and Charlotte Le Bon's pretty fellow chef assisting him in his cooking, but we never see him receiving help from either of them.  Every time he cooks a recipe; it's perfect, on his own.

 

4) This is a pet peeve of mine, but when a movie takes place in a foreign country, and the film establishes a difference between English and the native language of that country (in this case French), it really annoys me to suggest that English is the primary language of the characters, and they only use French on rare occasions.  I don't mind if a movie uses the English as a substitute for whatever the native language is, but this movie goes to lengths to establish French and English as two separate languages and then has all the French citizens speaking English for casual conversations. Mirren even tells one of her employees to repeat a line in English so everyone can understand it.

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Note: the title is actually The Hundred-Foot Journey. As someone noted on Twitter, it's nice to have a movie title spelled correctly for once (as opposed to, say, Step Brothers or Eight Legged Freaks).

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I wanted to like The Hundred-Foot Journey better than I did. 

 

It has themes and vibes I usually enjoy. It has elements I actually enjoyed. Mirren and Puri are both great to watch, and the young people are enjoyable and easy on the eyes. 

 

But the level of deliberate calculation and manipulation ultimately undid it for me. 

 

Too many gooey Life of Pi cliches: "Sea urchins taste of life. Life has its own flavor." "Food is memories." "To cook, you must kill. You must make ghosts…spirits that live on in every ingredient." "In this restaurant, cooking is not an old, tired marriage. It is a passionate affair." "You cannot be nervous and make a sauce hollandaise. The eggs will feel it, and they will separate.”

 

Too much bogus conflict. Characters getting agitated and shouting at each other when the circumstances don't seem to warrant it. Are we really supposed to imagine a world-class French chef like Mirren in 2014 holding such a contemptuous attitude toward Indian cuisine? 

 

Yet for all the bogus conflict, and the characters with not-always-convincing flaws, our hero is morally unimpeachable and as supremely gifted as Harry Potter. Everything comes to him without effort, he makes no mistakes and never struggles. 

 

In the end, unconvincing small-town nostalgia. The big-city world of haute cuisine, where cooking is "not an art, but a science." The "beast with a thousand mouths." Yet in this world of cooking science they haven't figured out the small-town locations where the best mushrooms grow? 

 

How many scenes of fireworks were there? How many scenes of fireworks does any movie need? I could almost feel Hallstrom pounding on the table shouting "This is a Magical! Celebration! Of! Magic!" 

 

And I'm at a point in my life where, if I'm watching a movie set in France, I'm no longer content to listen to French-accented English. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkk_HU4qaNk&index=4&list=PLPu38Ui5dTDINmv5o5eF6Y0GAlkTBqoeP

 

P.S. Added: Whoa, Evan C, I see we have more than slightly converging takes. (I started writing my post before seeing yours.)

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:
: Too many gooey Life of Pi cliches: "Sea urchins taste of life. Life has its own flavor." "Food is memories." "To cook, you must kill. You must make ghosts…spirits that live on in every ingredient." "In this restaurant, cooking is not an old, tired marriage. It is a passionate affair." "You cannot be nervous and make a sauce hollandaise. The eggs will feel it, and they will separate.”

 

That's hilarious. I'd love to see a movie with that kind of dialogue, if it were an intentional parody. (Maybe starring Will Ferrell.)

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I did wonder about the last plot point at the end of the film, it seemed pushed in and a bit odd, although it did fit in with the family apsects.  The "Life of Pi cliches" didn't really bother me, I didn't feel as if it was an attempt to be a literal thing, rather a way of their describing the life and passion involved in the cooking.  For me it didn't seem emphasized in a way that felt jarring.

 

I think the main characters conflict wasn't to be with the food.  He just had such a great gift.  He didn't need help as much with the cooking but with the ability to learn about and walk within that other "world."  The main conflict was between the two characters and I can totally understand her reaction.  

 

The same with the initial conflict of the father and Helen Mirren's character.  Helen Mirren's character was a grump not just because of her place in society (or perceived place in society) but because her restaurant had ties to her deceased husband for her.  I had no problems with her character overall.

 

 

So I kind of see some of the above points, but I guess none of them were an influence on my experience of the movie.  I never even considered that there were too many fireworks, rather I was kind of thinking that this would be an awfully great environment to be within.  Often eating great food under the stars in a beautiful setting with fireworks going off in the distance.  That works for me.  (And yeah, I know I was probably being manipulated.   smile.png      )

 

But I agree that the film did lose it's way a little in the last act.

Edited by Attica

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the French countryside looks beautiful

I think it's more than the countryside that looks beautiful in this movie. There are several moments, if not scenes, that are gorgeously lit and/or framed -- a real surprise for me, and the thing that makes all the above stated concerns -- all legitimate -- not all that important because, well, the film is a pleasure to watch. The shots of the food are to die for, of course, but it's not even those images I'm thinking of. The film won me over fairly early, making the last half-hour, which does seem rather forced, a setback but nothing fatal. 

 

I've seen numerous crowd-pleasers aimed at grown-ups that much less cinematically interesting than this film. Again, though, I don't want to oversell the film as great cinema. It's not. It's just better than average -- quite a bit -- and set apart mainly in how it looks and is shot. It's also a big comeback for Lasse Hallstrom, whose career track had been mystifying in recent years. 

 

Welcome back, Lasse.

Edited by Christian

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Christian said:

 

:It's just better than average -- quite a bit

 

 

Yes.  I agree with this.  This film isn't a masterpiece, but it's still pretty darn enjoyable.

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I am more on the side of Evan C and SDG. I really wanted to like the movie, especially because it was a date night ( a rare night out for us). My wife and I LOVE Babette's Feast and Big Night so maybe our hope for such an experience as those two films set the bar too high. 

 

I was bothered by many of the same things as others have mentioned. However, this film was difficult for me to get into very early on. The V.O. of the main character is not often done well and it didn't work for me in this movie. I do not care for this device to create back story and/or explain all that the filmmaker couldn't without it. And, as I recall, the V.O. perspective of the main character never comes back in again after being used in the beginning, this felt odd to me.

 

My main issue was with the pacing. It constantly changed and not in a seamless intentional way. Sometimes the film moved slowly and other times the passing of time was condensed in a montage story way and this gave the film as a whole an extremely inconsistent flow. I wonder if this was intended to be a longer movie.

 

Lastly, I didn't really care for the way

they consummated the love story. It felt rushed, out of place, inconsequential and completely uncared for. They way the relationship was building between Hassan and Marguerite throughout the movie, the implied "quickie" at the end made the whole thing feel cheap.

 

In the end, it was a good "date movie". It was entertaining.

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Thom said:

 

:My wife and I LOVE Babette's Feast and Big Night so maybe our hope for such an experience as those two films set the bar too high. 

 

 

 

Could be.  It's no Babette's Feast, that's for sure.

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SDG wrote:

: Too many gooey Life of Pi cliches: "Sea urchins taste of life. Life has its own flavor." "Food is memories." "To cook, you must kill. You must make ghosts…spirits that live on in every ingredient." "In this restaurant, cooking is not an old, tired marriage. It is a passionate affair." "You cannot be nervous and make a sauce hollandaise. The eggs will feel it, and they will separate.”

 

That's hilarious. I'd love to see a movie with that kind of dialogue, if it were an intentional parody. (Maybe starring Will Ferrell.)

 

I can hear all of these lines being spoken by Wes Studi as The Sphinx in Mystery Men.

 

Edited by Overstreet

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In the end, it was a good "date movie". It was entertaining.

Yup. That's about the sum of it. I enjoyed it as diversion, and occasionally for its aesthetic appeal. If the story were half as delicious as the characters seem to think their food is, it would have made it a much more interesting film. 

 

Obviously, as such, one instinctually draws parallels to Babette's Feast, which is such an exquisite specimen in the food-film genre that it's a bit unfair to use it as a bellwether for other food-based films. I would actually more closely align it to Chocolat, a film which used the theme of a foreign family opening up a food-based shop in a suspicious French town much more effectively. 

 

As a matter of fact, my greatest criticism of The Hundred Foot Journey is that any time I would consider viewing it, I could just watch Chocolat instead and get a better (or should I say more palatable?) viewing experience.

Edited by Joel C

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