When I walked out of the theater yesterday, I found myself lost for words to describe The Hundred-Foot Journey. Images and vague concepts flew in and out of my mind without leaving any concrete ideas that kept slipping out of my pointless effort to grasp even the tail of what I just experienced. And then, it came to me like a divine revelation. Poetry! It was sheer poetry! When a film is about food, it inevitably needs to release the passion behind the culinary art, which is tied to heritage, family, tradition, adventure, and love. Indeed, it does. The film is a celebration of old meeting new, color meeting flavor, spice meeting plain, and Indian meeting French.
Although the critic would be right to call it a “comedy”, the story is so much more about life. The main character Hassan, born with the passion of a chef, wishes to live out that role in the midst of a father who is “all-out” and a brother who is always holding back, cleverly portrayed the mindset of a new immigrant in a foreign land situated in a remote French village. The director shows the audience why cooking is so important to Hassan by bringing the entire theater to the kitchen. Every time the screen is splashed with colorful spices, flour, tomatoes, cheese, or eggs, or mushrooms, the audience realize this is more than food for the stomach – these are food for the soul! When Hassan puts his hands on the box of spices, and when he smells the different spices, he brings back his mother’s spirit in the soup or sauce or whatever dish he is preparing.
I can keep talking about this film, but I feel that I am almost wearing it down that I must stop here. If you are going to see it, I must urge you not to be distracted by the heart-warming story, the superb acting, the beautiful scenery, the subtle humor, or even the addictive photography. Remember, you must forget yourself and let it take you in. For a poetry must be experienced!