A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, ... See full summary »
A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, Protee - a man of great nobility, intelligence and beauty - and the intricate nature of relationships in a racist society. Written by
Dawn M. Barclift
Claire Denis's Chocolat is a beautiful but frustrating film. The film presents a very interesting look at the household of a European colonial family living in Cameroon, giving the viewer an informative perspective on the lives of many characters and their interaction. However, the development of these characters is often maddeningly insufficient. For example, a central theme in the story is young France's inability to form strong relationships with others. Although this portrayal is executed flawlessly, notably in the way that Denis frames the story with scenes from France's return to her childhood home, the girl's lack of intimacy with the film's other characters makes it difficult for a viewer to invest much interest in her development (or lack thereof) as a protagonist. The general stagnation of the film's character development makes it difficult to become engaged in the loosely organized plot. The film raises a great deal of tension between characters, particularly between Aimee and the men in her life, but never fully addresses this social friction, leaving the viewer unsatisfied. The final few scenes are powerful but depressing. Denis's work is certainly interesting from an intellectual and historical standpoint, but if you are looking for a film with adventure or drama, Chocolat is definitely not the best choice.
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