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The fable `Chocolat' is a delicious treat by Director Lasse Hallstrom. This tasty story is about an engaging drifter who inhabits a constrained town and opens up a chocolat. Let's just say that her pastries would have turned Willy Wonka into Willy Bonka. Juliette Binoche, who has not acted since her Oscar winning performance in `The English Patient', was delightful as the chocolat owner. Judi Dench, Lena Olin, Alfred Molina also left a good aftertaste with their supporting work. So hurry up and take a bite out of `Chocolat' before it runs out! ***** Excellent
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, as did the other people in my group. It's a simple fable with a predictable ending, but we all got caught up in the mood and felt that we were friends with the quirky characters who live in the small French town where all the action takes place. Even the two children are enjoyable, not nauseatingly cutesy as one fears children might be in this type of film. Juliette Binoche is ravishing to look at and conveys the Mary Poppins-type quirkiness that carries the film. Alfred Molina is the reactionary, super-religious mayor of the town who tries to pressure Binoche into leaving, but his portrayal is sympathetic enough that he doesn't destroy the fable-like quality of the film. Johnny Depp is a charming river rat, and you also have two fantastic pros in Judi Dench and Leslie Caron. Go, and let the movie suck you into its sense of place and time and you'll leave the theater feeling that all is possible in life after all.
There were a few reasons why I wanted to see Chocolat. I am all for sweet, heart-warming stories and I love Johnny Depp and Judi Dench. Upon viewing, Chocolat doesn't disappoint. The pacing sags slightly in the middle, but Chocolat is overall delightful and quite simply for me a delicious experience. The production values are exquisite- the cinematography is lovely, the scenery is breathtaking and the costumes are gorgeous. The music is also lovingly lyrical, and the script is both funny and touching and thankfully manages not to become too mushy or treacly. And the story is very heart-warming and compelling, with crisp direction from Lasse Hallstrom. Chocolat does also have a fine cast, Juliette Binoche is typically fine and Johnny Depp looking so handsome by the way is charming. Alfred Molina is great too, and while Judi Dench was very good I personally think her performances for Notes on a Scandal, Iris and Mrs Brown were better. In conclusion, excellent film. 9/10 Bethany Cox
"Chocolat" sounds like a gooey foreign love story, but it's actually a
fable with classic story archetypes and a hint of magic, all of which
finishes pleasantly with a tender morsel -- err, moral.
It's about as sophisticated as chocolate, which is not very sophisticated, so "Chocolat" is as easily digested as it is open to criticism for a lack of heady drama. Nominated for five Oscars, one would think it dwells in intellectual territory, but "Chocolat" comes from the heart -- and possibly the stomach. "The Cider House Rules" director Lasse Hallstrom sees these charms and wisely makes them the focal point of this likable film.
Juliette Binoche stars as a mysterious but likable woman name Vianne who comes to a small, bland and morally rigid French town run by the Catholic church and opens a chocolate shop with her imaginative young daughter. We know only that "the wind brought her" to this town -- her past remains a mystery, which creates that slightly magical tall tale effect. Within the first fifteen minutes her shop is open for business and she's successfully predicting what each customer's favorite treat will be. Binoche exudes the charm the role requires but never sacrifices sophistication despite not having a clearly established back story.
On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Alfred Molina as Comte de Reynaud, the moral authority figure who immediately sees Vianne's shop as an affront to his town and its Catholic principles. Cold on the outside but clearly soft on the inside, of all the Oscar nominations, somehow Molina's performance -- in my opinion the film's best -- was overlooked.
Vianne's chocolate creates quite the stir, improving one couple's love life, inspiring a wife (Lena Olin) to leave her abusive husband and reuniting a old woman (Judi Dench) with her grandson. In a more serious film, this would all seem quite convenient and unlikely, but few viewers will fail to notice that chocolate is a metaphor here for something bigger. It embodies that blurred line between what is temptation and what is healthy possibility.
That metaphor provides a strong moral fiber for "Chocolat" which turns out to be what makes it a fine film. It has a tendency to dull a bit in the middle and the entrance of Johnny Depp late into the run time despite his high billing confuses more than helps the story, but overall "Chocolat" is rich in its simplicity. When the young priest, Pere Henri (Hugh O'Conor) delivers the closing words of the film at Easter Mass after appearing as a peculiar and weak character throughout, the story's message becomes abundantly clear and the intention and wisdom of the film shine through.
"Chocolat" could easily be construed as critical of organized religion, Catholicism in particular, but Pere Henri's speech beautifully connects the film's call for embracing life with Christian philosophy. It's a timeless message with timeless components, but the unique premise and setting make "Chcolat" a fresh tale of great wisdom.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is one of those that you can watch many times and still find delight in. Although it is a sweet tale that bears chocolate treats and a lovely message, it also shows the power of healing and settling down into a life filled with love. Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp's characters are both outcasts from society in their own right, each one too different and vibrant to fit into the mundane mold of society. Through their friendship love is born, and through Juliette Binoche's friendship with Judy Dench another love and comfort is also supplied. Each one of the characters in this story are rich and wonderful, whether they are a repressed wife who steals and is then released from her emotional bonds, or young boy who draws beautifully and has an over-protective yet loving mother. The entire film carries the message of love, hope and new beginnings and what can be made from those new beginnings. It also carries another message: You change the tribe, and the tribe changes you.
Chocolat is a pleasure for the eyes, a feast of decadent visuals with
tasteful costumes, sets and of course, edible delights. The most
wonderful thing about this movie has to be the cast, headed by the
beautiful Frenchwoman Juliette Binoche as Vianne, a nomad who travels
with her daughter and sets up shop in a tiny French village. She is
somewhat of a rebel, who doesn't go to church and believes in giving
into the desires an passions most people restrict, especially during
the holy time of Lent. As Vianne tries to survive the tense and strict
society in which she dwells, she comes across various people all with
different desires and pleasures, including Judi Dench as a bitter old
woman, Carrie-Ann Moss as a strict and upright mother and Lena Olin as
a wife with an unsteady home life.
All changes for Vianne when Roux,a handsome riverboat wanderer played by Johnny Depp shows up on the shore. He is more of a nomad than she and he inflicts in her desires she never thought she had and soon is beginning to get a taste of her own medicine. Despite this rather stocky and formulaic plot line, the movie is quite enjoyable though not completely satisfying. It dances with ideas about forgetting your moral conscience and giving into every desire, which I am sure cannot be helpful to anyone. Perhaps I am misjudging it, but it seems almost as if the movie is more interested in simply showing the power of the chocolate than the actual process involved in making a change in your life. It does have elements of fantasy, which I don't mind, but I find it hard to mix fantasy with reality and make it work all the way.
Despite its shortcomings, this is a sweet and spicy delight with a top-notch cast, some gorgeous sets and costumes, and some interesting twist on chocolate recipes. It makes for a great escapist movie, a place I'm sure we all wish we could go to.
Lasse Hallström seems to specialise in either adapting or crafting
whimsical little tales that have about them the lightest of touches but
are full of numerous interesting characters you would be quite willing
to spend much more time with. His movies always seem to leave you
hankering for just a little bit more.
And with Chocolat, a far from perfect movie, he does it once again. Juliette Binoche arrives in a small French village, young daughter in tow, and proceeds to turn a local patisserie into a store devoted exclusively to chocolates of all tastes and varieties. Causing quite a stir amongst the restrained locals (especially as the store is officially opened during the time of Lent), she struggles to make friends and fight against the stifling moral strait-jackets that everyone appears to have been placed in (all thanks to the mayor, played by Alfred Molina). Some people do end up lending their support but they are all outsiders in their own way; a curmudgeonly grandmother (Judi Dench), an abused and put-upon wife (Lena Olin) and a "river rat" (Johnny Depp, complete with a terrible accent). The next time the North wind blows will it be time for the new arrivals to move on or will they help the town actually enjoy facets of life.
With only a few moments of actual seriousness throughout (one fire scene and one particular scene involving an outburst from Peter Stormare as he tries to reclaim the wife he inflicts violence upon) this is, for the most part, a light and palatable confection. Yes, it is making points about the way we need to sometimes just stop and enjoy life and what we have, it's making points about tolerating differences in others and it's . . . . . it's . . . . . it's actually busy making you lick your lips as you watch chocolate after chocolate being served up to the right customer.
Hallström beautifully sets things up and then simply lets them work from A to B so that we are presented with little more than an endearing fairy tale for those old enough to tuck themselves into bed at nights. A sweet little treat.
See this if you like: My Life As A Dog, Amelie, Simply Irresistible.
I enjoyed very much the book and the film enhanced the magic of the
story. I liked the idea that chocolate can change people even the most
sour ones. The message of the film is that there is always a solution
for every difficult circumstance in our life's- in a shape and taste of
a piece of chocolate in this case. This romantic comedy gives a sense
of 1959 town in Europe where religion has a great importance. In my
opinion, Julliette Binoche plays a sweet and caring role-a
personification of her own personal attributes. Whether Jonny Deep
gives life to Roux a traveler who music brings joy to the town.
The film is best see in French and then subtitled in your mother tongue so the romanticism does not get lost in translation, also because the film is set in Lansquenet, France.
I'm not really a big fan of romantic comedies like "Chocolat" but I
have to admit that I had a great time watching it on theaters back in
Juliette Binoche's performance is truly tender and brave at some points. The situations are not dramatic at all but in exchange, we get tender situations mixed with a bit of drama.
The whole feminism sub context works pretty well and it's not pretentious by any means. In fact, it fits with the movie's magical tone.
The idea of having chocolate as an important part of the plot makes this the perfect romantic date, plus it has Johnny Depp for the ladies.
The plot, costumes, settings, and situations are very wise and sweet for almost every kind of audience.
Give "Chocolat" a chance and you won't regret but only if you're in the mood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Chocolat is directed by Lasse Hallstrom, has a screenplay by Robert
Nelson Jacobs, is based on the novel by Joanne Harris and stars
Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp.
Vianne Rocher(Juliette Binoche)is a mysterious woman who drifts into a small French town where rules and order are the way of things and religion dominates all.She is a kind and fun loving woman who has some tasty surprises in store for the townsfolk.Vianne opens a chocolate shop as lent approaches much to the dismay of the towns mayor the Comte Paul de Reynaud(the wonderful Alfred Molina)the two become enemies as people sample her chocolates and accept her friendship and individuality.
However perhaps even Reynaud can change and become a nicer man who is easier to get along with?well watch Chocolat and find out as you are swept off to the 1950's where such lifestyle was coming to an end and fashions were changing, as were people. Also featuring excellent performances from Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp as Roux a man who could hold the key to Vianne's heart.A must see and well made film.
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