EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. The French restaurant is run by the famous eccentric chef Madame Mallory, who reluctantly forms a mentoring bond with a young Indian boy whose family owns the rival eatery. Their bond, and his culinary awakening, is a core of the story. I’m hearing that Helen Mirren will play Madame Mallory, but DreamWorks said no casting has been set. Shooting will begin in the fall.
This amounts to a bit of home cooking for DreamWorks and its financing partner, India-based Reliance, and it satisfies an ambition to find a film with relevance to the Indian market. Besides a well-reviewed novel, the project has pedigree: It was adapted by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, and the producers are Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake.
It seems a role that is a strong fit for Mirren, whose other culinary-themed film, the Peter Greenaway-directed The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, was a bit strong for my palate. This is also the kind of movie that Hallstrom does well, as he has proved on films from Chocolat to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules and, most recently, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. I’m drawing parallels because those films were atmospheric and drenched in their environments, and not because there is a food or beverage in the title of each of those other films. Hallstrom is repped by UTA.