Review: 7 out of 10 stars.
Don’t come hungry as it is the cheesiest feel good movie of the summer so far. It portrays an Indian family who owned a restaurant but was forced to leave after unrest back home and traveled to Europe. Because their car broke down, they decided to settle in a small France town (filmed in Tarn-et-Garonne, France) and opened a traditional Indian restaurant across from 1-Michelin star French restaurant (took place at the current Lumiere Restaurant.)
There were enough gaps that did not totally make sense but if you are a foodie and want a food fantasy as if this movie shows anything memorable, it will be sea urchin, how to emerge into French fusion (fancy term for cuisine twist or in reality, dump down authentic cuisine for the less adventurous eaters), Indian spices (sea urchin is a delicacy in India?!), and oh, or make an omelette!
There’s no real hardship for anyone, none for the real life chef hardship was shown in the flick.
The movie started with the rivalry between the 2 restaurants and the physical distance between the 2 is why the name of the movie. But it does go a different direction less than half way through the movie, making it more a journey of the young sharp chef, Hassan (Dayal.)
There was some humor with the very determined papa (Puri) and stubborn Madame Mallory (Mirren.) This side story definitely has stolen much of the screen time as both seasoned actors interacted lively in those heated arguments. It’s Papa’s fire vs. Mirren’s ice.
The movie was meant for entertaining but with lots of small bitter taste along the way as character struggles among themselves. But in the end, it has an ending that you would not lose your appetite.
Keywords: Michelin, foodie, France, India, drama, comedy, adventure, moviereview
— Spoiler Ahead —
The reference of Madame Mallory being like the Queen was cute, reminded of her role in the movie “The Queen.”
The beginning about how a riot destroyed the family restaurant was a bit far fetched as the main reason why the family would travel all the way to Europe to start a new life.
Le Bon playing Marguerite was excellent, showing a cool and distant sense on the surface but with fire underneath. Yet as she realized her dream was about to be crushed, she kept her coolness without over-acting. Her bittersweet ending with Hassan was brilliant though a bit diminishing her true techniques, comparing dimly against Hassan’s innovative skills.
The stardom brought the young chef from remote and homey semi-unpaved single road, to cross that hundred feet to learn, then miles to an even more famous larger size restaurant in Paris showed the ultimate dream of many chefs. However, in real life, while many chefs would love to live in big cities, it’s making an assumption that only then they can learn techniques. As soon as Hassan decided to leave the Michelin place soon after the upgrade, it’s hard for the audience to wonder why he simply did not stay and make it to the top.
Dayal’s character lacks good reasoning to cross those lines, making his character’s moral credibility in question, and became unlikeable.
His turn to drinking once became a big chef did not help.
While the 2 elders blossom, the young innovative chef was in stark contrast cooking away in Paris, watching fireworks alone comparing with the previous 2 years when he watched it with his family, and was drinking his sorrows away. This was a very good reflection for the audience. And ultimately the writer and director were able to bring the audience back to the center of the story, that family is what gives passion to make food an enjoyment, and not just eating at a fancy place.
The omelette that Madame Mallory made with instructions from Hassan, while a creative way to make her understand how it all comes together, the writer made the fatal mistake that an excellent dish is not just about preparation skills, but more importantly, the execution of the dish. One can argue he was a good teacher as well as his squab’s sauce had already won her heart, it is simply not enough to convince the audience.
The 2 love stories with only the family and Mallory’s bistro is just too much too intimate, making it really congested and too busy for a movie. Sometimes love story runs way deeper with unspoken ending and imagination.
The racial slur from the father describing his son looking like a terrorist when featuring in a famous restaurant critic magazine was a low blow and unnecessarily, showing the father not only was money pinching (even has money), his way of semi-forcing new customers simply made him low class in character, even it was meant to show he’s simply being honest.
The British customs scene where the family first entered showed total rudeness of the customs. Why was that necessary to be looked down and questioned Hassan as a cook and mocked whether he was just a helper. The author of the book / writer of the movie seem to be quite disconnected with reality.