I only watched this movie because Helen Mirren was nominated as Best Actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy by the Golden Globes for this very role. She’s a twelve-time nominee with four wins under her fabulous belt. I think she’s great, and not just in a girl-crush kinda way (though definitely in that way as well), but in that I find her elegant to watch on screen. She usually make good choices, and as the film is backed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Steven Speilberg, I was a little let down to find this one was more hamburger than filet mignon.
It’s about Madame Mallory (Mirren), a restaurateur of a fine French establishment who is horrified when foreigners open up a curry shop not 100 feet from her front door. She tries to harass them out of business but eventually must admit that their young cook (Manish Dayal) is superior to her own.
The food porn is fabulous, and of course I watched it on an empty stomach (confidential to Matt: butter chicken tonight?) but it’s not enough to hurdle over the holes in the plot, which is dashed sparingly throughout the movie like so much spice, along with pounds of clichés and a good measure of cultural stereotype to boot. Not to mention the slow burn (but maybe you’re looking for a movie to nap to?) and the schmaltziness that Mirren and co-star Om Puri should be above.
It’s predictable and pompously-titled, and at one point I found myself really bothered by the score, which was overdramatic (sounds like Schindler’s List, is actually over melting ice in a bucket of fish). The cast is solid (Dayal is a serious cutie) but in Lasse Hallstrom’s cinematic food fight, baguette vs naan, all you end up with is a bit of sliced Wonderbread with the crusts cut off.