Here’s a testing question - can you think of a film or TV programme Helen Mirren wasn’t very good in?
No, I can’t think of one either.
Which is why she’s never short of work and people go to films purely because she’s in them.
And there’s no doubting that she is the best part of this very enjoyable movie.
Armed with a pretty good accent, she plays Madame Mallory, owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant in France whose whole life is wrapped up in this establishment.
An Indian family, following tragedy in their home country, arrive and set up a restaurant right opposite Madame Mallory’s establishment (100 feet away).
A fair degree of dislike is instigated by Madame Mallory which ends up being reciprocated.
Plus there’s a strong nationalistic feeling among some of her staff.
However, the interesting element is that the Indian restaurent owner’s son, Hassan, is a gifted cook, whose skills with flavours and ideas marks him out as someone very special.
He is also attracted to the rival sous-chef Marguerite.
Based on the Richard C. Morais book, this film has plenty of sentiment in it, but manages to keep its feet on the ground.
Helen Mirren certainly helps in this, but gets admirable support from Om Puri, as the Indian patriarch, Manish Dayal as Hassan and Charlotte Le Bon as Marguerite.
However, there are scenes between the latter two that do feel a little sluggish, especially early on.
Initially this movie will appeal to a more mature audience, mostly because of Dame Helen and the subject matter, but it’s worth a wider audience as an example of how to make an entertaining film with just a decent cast and script.
Film details: The Hundred-Foot Journey (PG) 122mins
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal
Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol