Hassan Kadam’s close-knit family owns a successful restaurant in Mumbai, where Hassan is honing his extraordinary culinary gifts. After his mother, the head chef, dies in a fire that destroys the restaurant, the father moves Hassan and his brother’s family to Europe to start a new life. Their ancient van breaks down near a little town in the French countryside where they discover a ramshackle property for sale and decide to open an Indian restaurant.
But there’s a problem. Just 100 feet away is a Michelin star-winning café whose snooty French proprietress (played to perfection by Helen Mirren) does not welcome the competition. Her attitude provokes all-out war between the two establishments. After the rivalry escalates to tragedy, one bite of Hassan’s cooking starts a chain of events that eventually draws the enemies into reconciliation.
Directed by Lasse Hallström, who is also responsible for the lovely foodie film Chocolat, The Hundred-Foot Journey’s stunning rural setting provides a visual banquet. Paired with soulful acting and a generous dollop of good humor, this gentle film reminds us that culture clashes don’t always have to end in conflict and that people who disagree can learn to love each other. But be warned: eat before you head out to the theater—the close-up shots of mouth-watering French and Indian food are pure torture if you’re hungry. (DreamWorks)