Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal in The hundred foot journey

Clashing Cultures and Cuisines

in Movies

If you have been following my columns since I started, they have been all about TV and films, but in these times of austerity and cutbacks in the arts, I wanted to show my respect for the great things happening in theater as well. In light of this and coming from a theater background the new heading to my column will be #Stage&Screen, starting next time. I hope you like the change and enjoy my articles.

But let’s move on to the subject at hand for this one.

A film I watched recently, but which came out in 2014, was The Hundred-Foot Journeyfrom the same guy behind Chocolat. I had such a gentle affinity to this unbeknownst-to-me gem that I wanted to write about the scenes and images in the film that have stayed with me.

How people react to the unknown when it challenges their preconceived ideas of tradition and family is something that weaves a way through a lot of films, television and theatre. From the in-your-face This is England to the subtler The Commitments to the classic Romeo and Juliet.

Although the film is a little twee or cheesy in places, the story and the tackling of the themes of tradition, culture clash, integration and comradeship are dealt with quite sensitively. You, dear reader, will like this film if you are a cinephile or a foodie. I am both, so for me it was a double whammy.

 

To slim it down and keep it lean, I am going to concentrate on my top five snippets:

Number 1 – Madame Mallory (a Michelin star restaurant owner) being shown how to make a omelette by Hassan (an Indian chef prodigy). His hands are bandaged up after receiving burns from an attack on his father`s restaurant.

Number 2 –  the stark loneliness of being at the top of you game as a chef in France.

Number 3 – the despair of the Indian family in a French town square remonstrating with their Father when they find out he wants to open a family restaurant opposite a Michelin star one.

Number 4 – an Indian family experiencing locally sourced French food and good hospitality after their van breaks down near a French village.

Number 5 – the proprietor of the Michelin star restaurant braving the rain to scrub her stark rival’s wall clean after it has been defaced with French nationalistic graffiti from some of her own staff.

I encourage you to get a bottle of wine, cheese and a baguette or likewise a curry, lager and naan bread and sit down with good friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend and enjoy this nicely done film. It is an easy film to watch, but that still deals with issues that are not so easy for us to face in these times of ill thought-out integration, and reacting badly to the unknown.

Coming from a theatre and performance background, and being a celluloid aficionado, it only seemed right that Stewart aka theLingoGuy pursued this through his other passion of writing. He is also very excited by the theatre and documentary scene developing locally, particularly English Theatre Leipzig, DOK and GlobalLE. However, he keeps an eye on the ground breaking stuff in the Fringe, Slam poetry, Battle Rap and the many fusion genre TV series and films. As you can see, you can expect a diverse palette of stage and screen choices, as well as other passions that he will paint from with his words.

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