It’s curry versus coq au vin in The Hundred-Foot Journey, a culture-clash tale directed by Lasse Hallström, who last dipped into the foodie-film genre with his 2000 confection Chocolat. Produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg and based on the novel by Richard C. Morais, the movie tells the story of the Kadams, an Indian family that opens a restaurant in rural France just 100 feet from a Michelin-starred establishment owned by a haughty haute cuisiniste (Helen Mirren). She is, to put it mildly, not impressed with their boisterous Bollywood-style eatery. Their rivalry escalates until young cook Hassan (Manish Dayal) and sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) fuse their cultures as they would flavors in a five-star entrée. ”It’s a bit of a fable, but a fable that wants to be realistically told,” Hallström says. ”It’s a melting pot of languages, of food, and of people.”
For the director, the most rewarding part of making the movie came when he got to work directly with Spielberg after wrapping. ”It’s like a dream of mine,” Hallström says. ”To have him sit next to me in the editing room and give me comments on the film was just heavenly.” Kind of like perfectly cooked chicken tikka…or duck à l’orange.