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Chocolat More at IMDbPro »

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A fairy tale masterpiece!

Author: ChocolatFairy from America
3 July 2003

Admittedly I love Chocolate and was biased towards liking this film. All who knew me insisted I see it. When a film is named after your favourite thing, your expectations may be high, but this film far surpassed mine! It's a beautiful tale that captures the heart. Letting us in on a small piece of Vianne's life, it teaches a lesson in embracing and loving life. It shows passion and what it means to truly live.

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Charming little film with outstanding performances

Author: Dave Kaminskas ( from Royal Oak, MI
20 March 2003

An atheist woman and her daughter move into a highly religious town and open up a chocolate shop just in time for lent... thus making the mayor want to drive them out of town, before the town's people indulge in the sins of chocolate during their time of lent. Excellent. Outstanding performances by the entire cast, good direction, and a charming and original story. All the characters are likeable including the mayor, and the chocolate in the movie looks so good you can't help, but want some yourself. *** out of ****

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Hallstrom cooks up another perfect recipe

Author: mlevans from Oklahoma
15 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Aromatic, sweet, rich and flawlessly blended, Lasse Hallstrom's `Chocolat' perfectly matches the delectable treats sculpted and doled out by Juliette Binochet throughout the movie. Perhaps the most gifted director working today, Hallstrom was probably the only one who could have made this tale of a Mary Poppinseque chocolate maker a masterpiece.

An exquisite piece of work, Chocolat delvers a strong message in just 121 minutes (It seems shorter.) with Hallstrom's velvet glove preventing the points he makes from stinging too badly.


Set in a quaint French village in 1959, a universe away from the worldly French big city life going on around it, the film begins with strong overtones of Mary Poppins. A `clever North wind' blows in not an umbrella-wielding nanny, but a chocolate-baking single mother and her young daughter. We later learn that the woman, Vianne (Binochet) hails from a long line of drifting Mayan women who dispense health and happiness through ancient magical recipes.

Just like in the earlier children's movie, the North wind blows her into a fussy locale, badly in need of a breath of fresh air-and a taste of chocolate. The village is a small, close-knit community where tradition is paramount-along with the leadership of the Catholic Church and the elected officials. Monsieur Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) is mayor of the small town and is descended from the first Comte (count) de Reynaud, whose statue stands outside the church in the center of town. He takes it upon himself to rewrite sermons for youthful priest Pere Henri (Hugh O'Conor), to spread gossip and to keep unsavory elements out of town. He leads by example, fasting throughout Lint.

The Comte meets his match in the strong-willed Vianne, however, as she dares open a chocolate shop during the beginning of Lint. Parishioners in this tiny village do not choose one negligible habit to dispense with during Linten season; they are expected to be abstinent even in marriage and to avoid all sweets and other forms of pleasure. As outcast villager Josephine Muscat (Lena Olin) says, those who misbehave or who fail to fit the narrowly defined roles within the community are termed `crazy' or forced out. Josephine and elderly Armande Voizin (Dame Judi Dench) are both outcasts who are reassured by the suave, confident chocolate maker. When swashbuckling river drifter Roux (Johnny Depp) and his band show up, it is more than the Comte can stand and the battle lines are finally drawn.

The plot has no real surprises, yet never drags. Hallstrom weaves his spell, with just a touch of mystical magic, as that old North wind blows in from time to time and stirs things up in the tiny town. The village itself is wonderful-both in the aerial shots (models, I assume) and closer views. Looking back, I cannot remember seeing an automobile, a few of which I assume would have been seen in even the most modest village in 1959. Still, it is a most charming setting and it works quite well. Even the first Comte's statue comes into play more than once.

The cast is superb. I was only familiar with Dench and Depp, prior to seeing the film. Everyone shines, though. Binochet rules the roost with a strong, appealing and very human portrayal of the sometimes-mystical sometimes-vulnerable Vianne. Strikingly attractive, her looks and tempting sweets are too much for the provincial natives. Molina is wonderful as the overbearing Comte. Every church has an elder/deacon like this. A good man at heart, he fights to suppress his own desires and heartache and expects the others to emulate his example. The protection of his idyllic village is his overriding priority. While pushy and presumptuous, Molina never crosses the line and becomes a cardboard villain.

Of course it goes without saying that Dench is superb. (When has she NOT been?) As the elderly, worn-out landlady, she sparkles with her usual strength, grit and charm. She and Binochet are marvelous together. She also shines with her artistic grandson Luc, played splendidly by Aurelien Parent-Koenig.

Olin makes a wonderful transformation as Josephine and delivers one of the best lines of the movie. Her drunken husband Serge (Peter Stormare) had roared, `You don't even know how to use a skillet!' while breaking into the chocolate shop to take her home. After conking him on the head with a frying pan, she proclaimed, `Who says I don't know how to use a skillet?' Depp also does good work and provides fine romantic tension with Binochet. John Wood and Leslie Caron also make a charming couple, who Vianne brings together in their twilight years. O'Conor, meanwhile, is likeable as the earnest, but inexperienced priest. A fan of American rock & roll music, despite himself, he nevertheless takes his vows seriously. He sternly lectures Wood for having prayed for God to soothe his ailing 14-year-old dog's spirit. When Wood blithely outmaneuvers him, he quickly slams the confessional door.

Perhaps my favorite Hallstrom moment is when the prim and proper widow Madame Audel sneaks a piece of candy during Mass. The crinkling of the wrapper catches many ears-especially those of the Comte, who gives her an icy stair. The camera then catches her-cool as a cucumber-innocently swallow her candy.

Of course it is not hard to predict the moral that will be learned by the priest, the Comte and his stunningly attractive secretary (Carrie-Anne Moss). This hardly matters, as Hallstrom and his cast and crew's execution are virtually seamless. To paraphrase the Christopher Reeves `Superman' promos, `You will BELIEVE that a magical chocolate recipe can change lives!' Hallstrom has a way of making a believer out of us.

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Relax and dream

Author: kmorar from Bratislava, Slovakia
27 November 2001

If you like the writer Gabriel Garcia Marques you will probably love this movie. This film has an aroma and there is a magic behind. May be the plot is not complex, but this is a movie, it's visual. Children actors are really good. I saw it twice and it was even better for the second time.

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Love is like swallowing hot chocolate

Author: Loay Omran from Cairo, Egypt
26 November 2001

Chocolat is a wonderful movie. As simple as that. Beautifully shot, smartly directed, and well acted, what more can you possibly ask? No wonder the Oscar nominees. This has all the fine materials for making a memorable movie. Chocolat? You will beg for more.

Set in 1960's at a small town in France, this is the story of Vianne (Juliette Binoche) and her 6 year old daughter, a couple that are destined to move from one city to another through the country. As she settles in yet another new town, she opens another chocolate shop - an act not appreciated by the Mayor and his followers. However her warm personality and incredible chocolates manage to win over many people. But things change dramatically as a group of river drifters lead by Roux (Johnny Depp) settle by the town. Vianne welcomes them, and becomes friends with Roux, leading to even more anger from the Mayor. He is totally against them, he fears they will change his people. The struggle continues but how will it end?

Elements of Religion, Human Naure, Life+Death, Sympathy, brutality, and fear -- among others -- will appear as you watch, but still this will remain as sweet as ... chocolat! Great performances from Juliette Binoche & Alfred Molina, the rest of the cast are also brilliant. Director Lasse Hallström offers a poetic film that is worth all the appreciation and critical acclimation its getting.

Recommended? It surely is. You will love it. See ... Love is like swallowing hot chocolate, Before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, But keeps you warm for a long time


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I've always had a sweet-tooth

Author: stamper from The Netherlands
21 November 2001

I can honestly say that this is not my favourite movie of the year 2000, but it still ranks very high in that list of movies. Also it ranks highest among the films which I have heard little about, but which I liked anyway. I mean this film got 5 Oscar Nominations, made more then 100 Million Dollars at the Box - Office and had big (and/or quality) names attached to it (Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche and Judi Dench). Despite all these factor's I didn't know about that film until I saw it standing on a shelf in the store I rent my movies at. To be honest, from the title, the cover and the parts I read at the backside of the film's package, I was convinced this was some touchy/feely romantic crap. (Oh boy was I wrong). This did not stop me from renting it though, first of all because of the Oscar nominations, second of all because of the big names attached and third of all because Johnny Depp rarely let's me down. Well the instinct had not forsaken me and I must admit I enjoyed this pretty much. The acting was good, there were laughs, romantic parts, sad parts, exciting parts in a few words everything that life and good film can offer. This film is really well made and acted and (contrary to most films nowadays) gives you something to think about, after you have watched the film. It is truly beautiful and poetic. Really, well done.

8 out of 10

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Works well as a fable in spite of flaws

Author: mbdvr1727 from Massachusetts
21 October 2001

Chocolat works as a sweet comedic fable about opening up to new perspectives and possibilities.

I am normally put off by political correctness and assaults on religion, and at times the movie became heavy-handed. But it seemed to me that Chocolat was not so much anti-religion or anti-tradition, as it was a more subtle look at when tradition works, and when it can be misused so that it no longer enriches, but stultifies.

Also, the rootlessness which is portrayed as the opposite of what the traditional French village stands for, is not shown in entirely glowing terms. And the endearing and solidifying features of the village are not overlooked. Ultimately Chocolat proposes a merger of these two tendencies for the benefit of all.

Fine performances, especially Judi Dench and the girl who plays Juliette Binoche's daughter. I did find myself occasionally distracted by the decision to use, not subtitles nor dubbing, but English with faux French accents.

The theme of the movie of course is not original -- think, Mary Poppins for grown ups.

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Author: ilove91x from San Diego, Ca.
16 October 2001

This movie is soooooo good. Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp are two big reasons to see it right there. If that doesn't do it for you, then maybe the whole chocolate thing will do it for you. You don't like chocolate, you say? Well, how about a good movie where people have faults, and learn to live with others that are different. This movie really is good, whether you are female or male. See it with friends or family...Just don't forget the chocolate!

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A quite good, but to long and predictable.

Author: Magnus Abrante from Stockholm, Sweden
9 October 2001

This was an intresting movie, the filming and pictures was very nice and the actors were excellent.

However i found it rather predictable, it was quite easy to figure out what would happen, also i found it a little bit to long, they could have cut it down and made it a bit shorter.

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Nowhere near original but is still good.

Author: Rob Deschenes ( from Toronto, Ont. Canada
3 October 2001

Not bad movie, this CHOCOLAT. A very classic theme (used again and again) is portrayed as the old society tackles the changes that come. The theme works this time around. CHOCOLAT has a very subtle attitude about itself and it shows throughout the movie when each character "grows." The movie has a sweet nature as well and we are not talking about anything overly hokey.

Lent has arrived in the small French town of Lansquenet. A mother and daughter also arrive too. They set up a chocolate store and captivate nearly everyone since trying something new is a rarity.

Predictable, CHOCOLAT demonstrates the people's desires, bringing out the best in them. Everything that was once behind closed doors is now an open book. The reason: chocolate! For that reason, it makes CHOCOLAT all the more humorous and enjoyable. Some good dialogue stretch out this overlong movie and provides some good entertainment. Things may have constantly changed Lansquenet when it arrived, but CHOCOLAT the movie is a good looking chick flick.

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