What’s your poisson?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE HUN­DRED-FOOT JOUR­NEY Di­rected by Lasse Hall­ström. Star­ring He­len Mir­ren, Om Puri, Man­ish Dayal, Char­lotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Dil­lon Mi­tra

PG cert, 117 min There is a good-bad film lurk­ing within this grey-pound com­edy from arch-sen­ti­men­tal­ist Lasse Hall­ström.

Fol­low­ing a tragic pro­logue in In­dia, we join restau­ra­teur Om Puri and his fam­ily as they make their way to Eng­land and then on to France in search of a place to set up shop. The clan even­tu­ally set­tles in an ab­surdly pic­turesque vil­lage that makes Bri­gadoon seem like a bustling hub of moder­nity.

A crum­bling, pic­turesque site is found, but there’s a prob­lem. Snooty He­len Mir­ren, pro­pri­etor of a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant, lurks an­grily across the road.

Dis­miss­ing Om’s menu (con­vinc­ingly, to any­body aware of French culi­nary prej­u­dices) as “fast food”, Mir­ren’s Madame sets out on mi­nor acts of sab­o­tage: com­plain­ing about noise, buy­ing up all the mush­rooms. A stand-off be­tween com­ple­men­tary cul­tures of­fers all sorts of cod­dra­matic pos­si­bil­i­ties.

One can barely imag­ine a bet­ter set-up for a good-bad film. With Steven Spiel­berg and Oprah Win- frey act­ing as Hall­ström’s pro­duc­ers, it doesn’t need to be said that a great deal of syrup is poured over both kulfi and eclairs. Warmed by the ide­alised ru­ral glow one ex­pects from a Stella Ar­tois com­mer­cial, Mir­ren scowls mag­nif­i­cently while Puri finds end­less Machi­avel­lian twin­kles. The cheesier el­e­ments of the pack­age – no­tably Mir­ren’s ’Allo ’Allo ac­cent – add to the guilty na­ture of the plea­sure.

Then, alas, it sud­denly goes off the boil (you just knew a culi­nary metaphor was on the way). The two vet­er­ans sort out their dif­fer­ences and we are led into an end­less, bor­ing yarn in­volv­ing Puri’s son (Man­ish Dayal) and his am­bi­tions to be­come a master chef. There is, of course, a ro­mance with one of Madame Mir­ren’s fe­male charges (Char­lotte Le Bob) and, equally pre­dictably, a great many im­por­tant life lessons are learned.

As well as tak­ing us away from the, older more in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters, this di­ver­sion de­prives us of a fo­cus on the spicier In­dian tra­di­tions. In short, too much cream, not enough dal.

That dame is a snob: He­len Mir­ren makes the Hun­dred-Foot Jour­ney

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.