Commentary
5:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

'Journey' Isn't Flashy, But Is Pleasant And Gorgeous

Helen Mirren would prefer crisp asparagus in 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'
Helen Mirren would prefer crisp asparagus in 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'

The Hundred-Foot Journey starts out rather unpromisingly, with violence in India and a tyrannical father and one of those tiresome young sons who seems to be in rebellion against everything (at least everything his father suggests).

But very shortly, the family moves to rural France and sets up a restaurant across the road from Helen Mirren's five-star French restaurant, and things settle down into a relaxed, thoroughly enjoyable-- though not very exciting and pretty clich├ęd-- story of business competition, domestic relations, improving racial relations and absolutely gorgeous color photography of settings, people and even food, which looked as inedible to me as gourmet food always does but joins the feast of colors on the screen.

Helen Mirren does not welcome competition, especially from a gaggle of furriners. But she turns out to be a reasonable woman who will compete ferociously within legitimate rules, but gets furious and changes sides when some of her supporters go beyond the rules. The obnoxious son morphs into a champion chef and an inevitable suitor for Mirren's pretty daughter, who seems to have no racial feelings at all.

These people are all too reasonable to turn anything into high drama. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a two-hour escape into the world as you wish it was, with likeable characters behaving predictably but the way people should.

Helen Mirren is probably the only star you know, but the father, Om Puri, is as big a name internationally as she is, and everybody does a good job-- especially the photographer, Linus Sandgren. I cannot think of another movie as visually enchanting as The Hundred-Foot Journey. Even the food.