THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY Blu-ray Review
It’s hard to get any traction to write about a film such as The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film which seems as though it were specifically designed not to raise any kind of strong feeling whatsoever.
Of course these types of films serve a purpose. Something you can watch with the family around the holidays with the confidence that you are not about to inadvertently witness an orgy or massacre. And yet The Hundred Foot Journey is so bland and inert, such the platonic ideal of inoffensiveness that it nearly seems like a dare. The Hundred Foot Journey will rouse no emotions in you, not even hunger, which is kind of a problem when you’re making a film about food that falls over itself to offer rapturous praise of the lead’s skill.
The Journey Of A Hundred Feet follows a family of Indian immigrants who open a restaurant in a French village and thus begin a rivalry with an established one led by the formidable Helen Mirren. Will the young son who shows such promise in the kitchen flower into a great talent capable of blending the two traditions? What do you think?
You don’t need to be a genius to make cooking and eating food look like delicious and intensely sensual experiences. You can do it in cartoons and animation, even a journeyman filmmaker like Jon Favreau is capable of shooting food so that you want to lick your screen. Yet Lasse Hallestrom who was once upon a time a promising director before he was transformed into the human embodiment of least objectionable programming, rings so little sensuality out of the act of cooking and the food itself that nearly every other flaw in the film seems minor. The film’s color palate is dark to the point of being bizarre, every scene is heavily filtered making the food look dank where it should be robust. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s sketches in Seconds managed to provide a more enticing sense of flavor.
The rest of the film is pleasantly numbing. Mirren as always is a dependable presence; the French Village and country side are as perfect as the backgrounds of a Miyazaki film. But it’s the sort of film where you’ll know every story beat before it’s delivered so thoroughly that you might begin to suspect that you’ve developed precognition. It’s as though every plot beat from the chaste romance to the eventual warming between rivals was thoroughly vetted so as not to allow for a single surprise. The film makes a few nods in the direction of magical realism and then like everything else just kind of half heartedly shrugs it off. This is a film so with so little of a pulse that it manages to make an attack by Moltov Cocktail throwing skinheads seem like a minor inconvenience.
So put on The Journey Of A Hundred Feet if you need something perfectly cromulent to distract your clan over the holidays. This is a film guaranteed to offend nobody, but it won’t engage anybody either.