A genuinely sweet story.
Director: Lasse Halstrom
Producers: Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Juliet Blake
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Parish, Manish Dayal, and Charlette Le Bon
So I remember watching this, like the geek I am, on an episode of the Bachelorette on Andi Dorfman’s season where she goes on a date to see an early screening of this movie. It seemed cute and French and romantic, at the time, and then when it was released, it got amazing reviews.
Naturally, I haven’t actually had the time to watch it until I sat down with one of my best friends on Saturday night and streamed it.
And let me just say: I wish this was nominated for more awards.
A movie like this is very hard to find…something that is not action-packed, but interesting and is sweet and romantic, but not corny. This isn’t your Nicholas Sparks movie. And, the best part is that it might be one of the only movies that I’ve actually learned something valuable from.
- The Story: Like I said in the very beginning, this is a very genuine movie. It starts off with this Indian family who moves to France in hopes of opening up an Indian restaurant. However, if you know the French, they’re very prideful of their culture, especially when it comes to food and cooking, so of course they are not exactly welcoming of this ethnic food. The family opens the restaurant exactly one hundred feet across from a very successful and traditional French dining cuisine owned by Madame Mallory (Hellen Mirren). So, they have to compete with this very popular restaurant starting from the ground up. Naturally, they have a member of their family, Hassam, who enjoys cooking and experimenting with foods, so their restaurant attracts a lot of people, which makes Mme. Mallory upset. There are multiple little plots in this, so I’m not going to say any more because it could ruin the story.
- Cinematography/Music: The picture, like the actual picture on screen, is gorgeous. They made a very cute, French-like outlook on this whole thing, where they have scripted out every scene to match the emotional impact of the story. Bastille Day, for example, displays fireworks during the French’s Independence Day and the shot is beautiful. I also think that what keeps this movie so on point is the music, and when I say this, I don’t mean like “cute little French and Indian music that is played at random times”. No. They make music and noise an issue as part of the cultural differences, which really embeds the music in the movie, in general, as a genuine conflict of the story. So, when transitioning between scenes and different music, they are very careful with making sure they don’t collide and instead coerce.
- The Gap Between Cultures: This is my favorite part of the movie. The idea of even any Asian culture attempting to move into a French industry is scary and intimidating, since the French happen to be one of the most prideful cultures I’ve seen. The romance that exists in the movies are bonded over food and cooking, which really says the opposites do attract. It’s kind of like the French’s version of integration, but with two parties. There’s definitely a huge gap between the Indian and French culture: the foods in India are spicier and much more flavorful than the French’s, the music is much louder and joyous than the French’s love for subtlety. They respect different holidays, like the French close on Bastille Day, while the Indians don’t. India has a lot of street markets and bargaining, which is what this family attempts to do at first, and the French are a lot more formal when it comes to trade. The funniest thing is that these two cultures are the exact two that would directly collide with each other, and it’s really interesting to see how they end up trying to work together just out of morals and ethics that exist in any culture around the world.
- Families and Independency: The main character, Hassam, is honestly the reason why his family’s Indian restaurant is a success: he wrote the recipes, he’s the head chef, he taught everyone how to cook. But, then he’s offer a job by Madame Mallory because she realizes that he has genuine talents that a lot of people can’t achieve in cooking school. So, he moves across the street to work for the “Enemy”, which angers his family. Not only that, he moves away to Paris to study and experiment with food. But, not for his family: for himself. This demonstrates a huge sense of independence that every child wants to have, but is too scared to have. And, even when we can overcome that fear and move away to become independence, there’s a little part of us and our families that want us to at least visit or move back to the home to at least embrace their past. We can’t run away from anything, no matter how bad it is. The only way to move forward is to embrace the past, which was a very good theme for this movie.
- Time-Span: I would actually consider this to be one of the only weaknesses. The movie spans over a very long period of time, as in like 10 years where you see the characters getting married and getting jobs. However, the problem was that it’s difficult for me to create a deep connection between any romance or certain characters because either they were 1) gone for too long or 2) separated to the point where romance wasn’t really a focal point. And, maybe, that’s a big part of the movie: romance doesn’t exist because we look for, but romance is there as a result of the things we love.