The Mistress Of Spices Review

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Tilo (Aishwarya Rai) is new to America, and holds a magical powers over the spices she sells in her store. Provided she adheres to the rules of being a 'mistress of spice' - never leave the store, never touch anyone, love only the spices. Then she meets Doug (Dylan McDermot). The more she falls for him, the more the spices start to misbehave for her customers...


Transferring a magic-realist novel onto the big screen is no easy task, as this romantic drama demonstrates. At least director Paul Mayeda Berges and screenwriting partner Gurinder Chadha had the sense to cast Aishwarya Rai, who starred in their musical comedy Bride & Prejudice: her undoubted screen presence keeps this consistently watchable. She’s Tilo, an apparently psychic spice shop owner living outside San Francisco who’s taken a vow as a “Mistress Of Spice” never to leave the shop – or, implicitly, date handsome architects like Doug (Dylan McDermott).

There’s promise in their rom-com-style attraction, but this sits awkwardly with the supernatural themes: magic and realism just don’t belong together here. Although with all the English actors trailing in and out of the shop pretending to be American, it’s even harder to believe in some of the locations than in the magic…

An ambitious attempt at an Indian immigrant version of Chocolat, this has amiable romance but little magic to speak of.