By: Chrysa Smith
Serendipity. It’s the wonder of life. That one second in time where everything is aligned according to a divine plan and comes together for your good. Sounds great. But its usually preceded by those dark nights of the soul or some other less than ideal circumstances. And so it was in the movie The Hundred Foot Journey.
Through some less than ideal events, including the death of a wife and mother and an attack on their village, an Indian family is on the move through Europe. After winding their way through one pit stop after another, no place really holds the promise nor dangles the lure for them to put down new roots. Until one day, their old VW van loses its brakes and the family winds up roadside in a small village in France. Met by Marguerite, a sweet passerby, she helps the family off the road and unbeknownst to them all, intimately entwines them in her life. Ah, serendipity.
The family’s business is food. Yet setting up an Indian restaurant in a village where one famous restaurant holds an acclaimed Michelin award doesn’t sound like a good plan. At least not until the son, a chef with great potential, takes a few tips from Marguerite, who just happens to work in the French kitchen. Across the street—-say 100 feet or so, is an old, abandoned restaurant that couldn’t compete with the cuisine just yards away. Yet, the father of the Indian family, a funny and driven man, decides to open the Mumbai style restaurant with every bit of ‘schtick’ imaginable—and then the customers come and conflict begins. Ah, serendipity.
Helen Miren enters as the stuffy, single-minded, driven business woman who manages the famous eatery. Sneaking behind window curtains, she keeps an eye on the activities across the street, furious that something so brash can affect the atmosphere and her customer base. She has it out with the father for his loud music and irritating ways until one day, she realizes that his son, the rising chef star, has a real talent. Thanks to Marguerite, he learned classical French cuisine through reading cookbooks and practicing his dishes with her. Ultimately, Miren invites him to work in her kitchen, which wins him acclaim and sends him off to the glamor of Paris. Ah, serendipity.
Miren softens as she realizes the family and the father have something to offer and tensions fade. Marguerite and the young chef have a love affair and the restaurants decide to co-exist without a feud. It’s a coming of age story, a love story, a food story, a friend story and a bloom where you’ve been planted story all rolled up in one. If you get the opportunity to see it, do. It’s an inspiring tale, like so many other good ones, that lift up the characters and move them forward on life’s journey. A journey that ends in the place they’ve been intended to get to all along, despite some bumps and detours.