Nice ingredients, bland result

( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-08-07 07:15:12

Nice ingredients, bland result

Producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg arrive for the world premiere of the film The Hundred-Foot Journey in New York. Reuters

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Journey has all the makings of a great movie about food, but the end result leaves viewers hungry.

Take one Oscar-winning British actress. Add an appealing supporting cast. Lather on the picturesque French countryside. Sprinkle liberally with gorgeous food shots, from bubbling, spicy Indian delicacies to perfectly composed French plates of pigeon and truffles.

And then heap on a heavy serving of corn.

What is it about recent food movies - Jon Favreau's Chef and now Lasse Hallstrom's The Hundred-Foot Journey - that, despite their virtues, they have to be so darned corny, so dewy-eyed, with everything tied up in a feel-good bow at the end? It's as if all that great food on set had this tranquilizing effect, sending everyone off, sated and smiling, with great life lessons learned, into a rosy sunset.

That's not to say there isn't a lot going for Journey (as there was for the enjoyable Chef), an adaptation of the novel by Richard Morais about an Indian family who opens a restaurant in a French village. Besides the above-mentioned virtues, notably the always delightful Helen Mirren and the entertaining Indian actor Om Puri, it has the absurdly good-looking couple of Manish Dayal, as a gifted young Indian chef, and Charlotte Le Bon, as the gorgeous sous-chef who teaches him the joys of haute cuisine (and not much more-this is a PG-rated movie).

It also has a script by the talented Steven Knight, and a score by Oscar-winner A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire). Oh, and it's produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

Given all these lovely ingredients, then, why is the final product so bland - and, not to lay on too many cooking metaphors, reductive? A couple of scenes feel borrowed from what remains the most original food movie of all, the animated Ratatouille.

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