Watching this movie is like waking up before your alarm feeling completely rested and satisfied with life. On those days it’s like everything goes well and things fall into place without effort or unnecessary complications. That is also exactly how I would describe this movie as an experience.
The plot was strong, engaging, full enough to drive the whole movie, and didn’t feel the need to have a story for every character. The story wasn’t over-narrated. We saw the back story we needed but weren’t given a montage of unnecessary details. We see why they had to leave their family home in India without making this movie have a jarring political stance. When I associate Indian food with Europe it is with England and the movie quickly explains why that didn’t work out for the family either and gives them all the reason I needed for nomading around until they landed in the French countryside.
We are shown major developments through emotions, through organic conversation, and through small, poignant moments. The supporting characters are used intelligently. It is the audience’s gain that not every character was developed and given their own story as so many movies tend to do.
That doesn’t mean any of the characters were lacking. In fact, I still felt that they each had their own essence in the world that was created. But this movie was about a core group of people and we really didn’t deviate. This is a slice of life story that speaks to some simple truths in a beautifully crafted movie.
To support such a beautiful story and well painted characters the actors really stepped up into their roles. Language and accents were used to flavour the characters but weren’t used so much that we needed subtitles. The actors did an amazing job balancing their identities and cultural backgrounds with the need to connect with an American audience.
The actors ease together on-screen. Silences on-screen were not awkward. Body language was honest and reflective of what one would expect in the real world between people in similar situations. People were cast who could easily handle the demands of the characters.
Helen Mirren was as good as I expected her to be. Granted, she should be amazing for who she is. I’m just impressed that she managed to be so amazing without being the only star on the screen. Instead of her performance standing out for its brilliance it lived harmoniously with many other bright performances. Each successful actor in this movie enveloped the others and elevated the experience to another level.
If there was one complaint I have it is that I didn’t know Manish Dayal existed before this movie. He is as delicious to look at as the food that he cooks. And on top of that he showed he is a strong actor through a muted but effective performance. I sincerely hope that he is given ample opportunity to show the power and range he is obviously capable of.
Verdict: It is not going to be a movie for everyone but it is a movie for anyone. I loved it and I would see it again in a heartbeat. If you like slightly understated, slice of life stories then this is a movie you shouldn’t miss. And it doesn’t make you feel negative emotions, bad about yourself, or dissatisfied about your life.
Social Cues: Know yourself and the people you plan to go with in case someone has a low tolerance for these types of movies.