Friday, August 8, 2014

Only Helen (Film Review: The Hundred Foot Journey)

Only Helen Mirren can make me watch a movie about Indian food, a cuisine I despise. Mirren is one of those few actresses who can make haute cuisine out of fast food fare, and she proves that here. Her character, Madame Mallory, is written like a cartoon character. Yet Merrin humanizes and gives life to her with such charm that she makes it come alive almost as vividly as Queen Elizabeth. Too bad the film around her is a disjointed mess. "The Hundred Foot Journey" cannot seem to decide what kind of movie it wants to focus on, and instead give us glimpses of four potential great movies it could have been. Ultimately it is saved by arresting performances from its cast: the aforementioned Mirren and a star-making turn by Manish Dayal, who plays Hassan Kadam, a young Indian chef who makes waves in the French culinary world. But before he does, though, we get to see funny shenanigans between Mirren and Kadam's father, played by Om Puri. The film bizarrely takes a left turn in the last quarter, and the payoff from it was just as weird. But this is still a worthwhile experience, because Helen Mirren makes every scene she in worthwhile - proving she is a living legend. It may not be worth your Saturday evening, but perfect on a weekend matinee.

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