I love movies with redemptive underlying messages. I’ve talked before about evaluating books or movies, based on whether they celebrate good or evil. As you watch or read, do you want the characters to do what is right or what is wrong? Does the movie make you want to root for the same thing God does?
- Prejudice is overcome. At the beginning the French and Indian restaurants–along with their owners and cooks–are at ‘war’. They are threatened by each other. They distrust and sabotage. But by the last scene in the movie, they are celebrating together, as friends. No more ‘French and Indian War’; only loyal friendship.
- Humility is the key ingredient to success. Hassan humbles himself and approaches Madame Mallory with a dish prepared according to her recipe, but she turns her nose upand throws the beautiful culinary display in the trash. Even after this, Hassan does not become resentful or angry. He even pursues an opportunity to study under Madame Mallory. In addition, Madame Mallory humbles herself, and invites Hassan to be her pupil, which makes her coveted ‘second star’ possible.
- “You meant it for evil…” There’s a theme in the Bible of God turning spite and malicious intent into unforeseen blessings. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, yet he became the ruler who spared them from famine. The Jews crucified Jesus, yet by his spilled blood, we are healed. There are hints of evil intentions being used for good in the movie. A fire is set, but this hostile display is the very thing which prompts Madame Mallory’s change of heart. She says, “There are better ways to be French,” and promptly begins scrubbing the graffiti from her ‘enemy’s’ wall.
Examples of tenacity and perseverance abound. Hassan stays up late, reading cookbooks and perfecting his techniques, before he presents his five sauces to Marguerite. Madame Mallory has been working toward a ‘second star’ for thirty years. Papa is willing to attempt opening a third restaurant, after losing the first two. Hassan isn’t dissuaded when his hands are burned.
- Family and friendship are elevated above fame. Hassan’s new fame is shown for what it is: empty. He isn’t any happier after his picture appears in magazines. In fact, we suddenly see a boorish and sullen side to him. Then, with a taste of some food that reminds him of home, Hassan realizes what his heart longs for: his family. And Marguerite, of course! An in her case, she eventually decides to set aside her competitive spirit for the sake of love and friendship–which prove to be far more fulfilling.
In the end, Hassan realizes that his greatest success will be realized in the context of family, friendship, loyalty, and love. Which is true for all of us, is it not?