The latest addition to the smorgasbord of foodie films this summer is Lasse Hallstrom's "The Hundred-Foot Journey." It's a sweet, sometimes sappy celebration of overcoming preconceived notions in the kitchen of life.
The Kadam family's patriarch (Om Puri) has decided to relocate from Mumbai, India, to Europe after their restaurant was destroyed in a political uprising. When their weary car breaks down in a scenic village in the south of France, they decide to stay and rent an abandoned restaurant in desperate need of repair. The structure just happens to be situated directly across from Madame Mallory's (the wonderful Helen Mirren) Michelin-rated establishment ... a mere 100 feet away.
Sparks begin to fly between Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam — and not the good kind. Papa's son, Hassan (the handsome Manish Dayal), a fabulous cook, tries to make peace, but the hot-headed restaurateurs will have no part of it. That is, until Madame Mallory discovers Hassan's immense talent, and the story takes an unexpected turn.
Hallstrom is known for his culture-clashing formats employed in such films as "Chocolat" and "The Shipping News." His expertise in bridging the gap between dissimilar people brings comfort and hope in a troubled world. Accentuating the beauty of food, geographical locales and ethnic music through his lens and score, Hallstrom offers up a feast for the senses in "The Hundred-Foot Journey."
It doesn't hurt that Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey signed on as producers. Deep pockets can almost guarantee success at the box office, via large advertising budgets. "The Hundred-Foot Journey" is receiving vast media attention and should fare well ... as well it should. But one can't help wondering about all of the other great "little films" that never generate the audience that they deserve.