Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey Review

August is often a very awkward month for movies to be released in. Typically your big Summer blockbusters happen earlier in the summer while your big Oscar-hopefuls don't start until October or November. Thus we get loaded with all kinds of movies, some being late blockbusters, some being early Oscar-hopefuls, and some being movies that studios just had nowhere else to put so they dumped them in August. This makes it an interesting challenge for me to try to rummage through the mass of movies to find the little gems that some would look over. Turns out I found one with The Hundred-Foot Journey. I also made the mistake of going into this movie hungry and thus my mouth was watering throughout as it is another food-related movie. So yeah, I would make sure to eat a good meal before seeing this because if you don't you're going end up at a restaurant against your will after the movie is over.

I don't really know why food-related movies are a thing this year, but this is the second one I've seen this summer, the first being Jon Favreau's Chef. While that one was a bore due to the poor writing, this one was quite excellent. The premise of the movie revolves around two rival restaurants across the street from each other in the countryside of France. The first is an already established French restaurant ran by Helen Mirren's character. The second is a brand new Indian restaurant set up by this Indian family who had recently suffered great tragedy in their home country and decided to start new in Europe. After their vehicle breaks down while on the road, they are helped by a few kind French people, and the father makes an executive decision against the will of all the children to settle right across the street from this other restaurant and start up their Indian restaurant again just like they had in their home country. And from here we are taken an a remarkable journey centering around family, friends and relationships with others.

What I really loved about this movie was that it was a calm, easy-going movie. It doesn't try to be big. It doesn't try to take the audience by surprise. There's no huge spins or overly-dramatic moments. It's just a relaxing and enjoyable movie that will definitely give you a breath of fresh air from all the huge blockbusters. Now yes, I am a huge fan of blockbusters and this summer has been especially excellent in those terms, but it's still nice to have a change of pace and forget about all the explosions and action sequences that have dominated your movie going experience for the last few months. Despite being relaxing and peaceful, this is definitely not boring. The story itself was very well-written and very relatable. It was great watching this family that had gone through tragedy pick themselves back up and move forward with life. I immediately became attached to this whole family as all the actors involved were fantastic. I also enjoyed watching the progression of our main French characters on the other side of the street. As would be expected, Helen Mirren is excellent in her role, but I also enjoyed the performance of the French Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon playing the love interest for our main character.

Yes, as we move peacefully along through the movie there are a few things that could've been done better. In trying to avoid huge drama, certain things felt a bit too easy. I feel like if someone were to randomly settle somewhere and try to start a restaurant, things would be a lot more difficult business-wise. Several of these challenges were actually brought up in the movie, but then they were more or less brushed over. What happened in the movie would've probably only happened in real life if all the stars perfectly aligned. Also, our main character, the son who was the best cook in the family, rises up through the ranks remarkably fast. By the time the end of the movie rolled around, I had the feeling that they had taken things a bit too far with his character. In fact, the whole final act in the movie felt unnecessary. There's a certain point in the movie where I thought it was going to end, but it kept going. I won't spoil the movie, but once you go see it you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. And yes, not only did I think it was going to end, but when all was said and done, I feel that the movie should've ended there. Not only did it feel a bit unnecessary, but it also made the movie feel a bit too long.

Despite this, though, the movie is really enjoyable. If you are looking for some counter-programming to all the summer blockbusters or you are simply looking for a well-made, family-friendly movie than this is the movie for you. It's not perfect, but the overall feel and message for the movie actually was very inspirational. It hit me in a very personal way that I can't describe in words and thus not only did I walk out of the theater feeling very happy, but I was actually a bit emotional, which I didn't expect at all. This movie obviously won't be for everyone, but I feel that those who decide to give it a shot in a really crowded August may find themselves pleasantly surprised at what this movie is able to offer. My grade for the movie is a 8/10.

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