Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two films -- Chef, The Hundred-Foot Journey -- which deal with food, sentiments, family values, love

The names give them away. Food, more properly those people who prepare food with emotions and put a soul into the food, and create human bonds is what Jon Favreau-directed Chef,and Favreau played the lead role in the film as well, and Lars Sven Hallstrom-directed The Hundred Foot Journey, with a star cast that includes Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Juhi Chawla, Manish Dayal and the ethereal Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon, tell us about what critics are most likely to dismiss as mere sentimental stuff. Of course, the best film ever made with food as a theme and which conveys a deeper meaning of life was the Danish film, Babette's Feat made in 1987.
Chef revolves around the apparently unambitious man who wants to cook, cook well and make people happy with the food he serves. With a broken marriage, he tries to bond with his younger son by trying to share his culinary interest with him. The father-son bonding is much too heart-warming to fault this movie because of its predictability. The film also makes the populist case that an instinctive cook is superior to the most sophisticated food critic.And in Hollywood fashion, the critic comes round to create a restaurant for the chef. But that is not the important part of the story. It is the hero finding his family through his gentle passion for cooking.
Charlotte Le Bon in The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Hundred-Foot Journey, produced among others by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, has another familiar story which shows a Muslim family running an eatery migrating from Bombay after a post-election riot to England first and then to Europe, before they find a lovely French village where they get ready to open an Indian restaurant. Here too it is not so much the surprises in the story but the simple emotional binds that evolve in the family of Kadams headed by Om Puri. The mother, played by Juhi Chawla, dies in the riots. The cliched dialogue with its predictable witty one-liners are really the strength of the film. It is the innocence displayed by Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon that animates the film.
A scene from Babbette's Feast

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