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Chocolat
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Reviews & Ratings for
Chocolat More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Charming and sweet, "Chocolat" is a typical but wise morality tale

8/10
Author: Movie_Muse_Reviews from IL, USA
14 June 2010

"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.

~Steven C

Visit my site http://moviemusereviews.com

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp are wonderful

8/10
Author: ga-bsi from South Africa
10 July 2009

*** 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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Sweet but not totally satisfying.

7/10
Author: bobsgrock from United States
22 April 2009

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A delightful, sweet little movie.

7/10
Author: tyler-and-jack from Edinburgh.
13 March 2009

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Chocolat

9/10
Author: Ingrid Flaubert from Spain
18 December 2008

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Cocoa smoothness.

8/10
Author: insomniac_rod from Noctropolis
17 November 2008

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 2000.

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A mouthwatering treat.

10/10
Author: Maddyclassicfilms from United Kingdom
4 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Chocolat is colourful,funny,moving and well acted.It's the story of Vianne Rocher(Juliette Binoche)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 a time of goodness and change as the 50's were coming to an end and fashions were changing as were people.Also featuring excellent performances from Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp as Roux who could hold the key to Vianne's heart.A must see and well made film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Warning - This Film Will Make You Hungry

9/10
Author: trix_n_min from Australia
16 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is just fantastic. Great cast, beautiful scenery, fantastic storyline. The setting of the town is just lovely, and the food scenes just make your mouth water. Everything in this film is just glittering with beauty. The accents, the actors, the chocolate of course, the town, the relationships... it is just lovely, a truly beautiful, peaceful movie. This film has a lovely tone and message to it, which it delivers beautifully, and Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp make the most gorgeous couple I've ever seen. The only downside? What with the chocolate and the enormous feast that is cooked up in the film, it always makes me hungry when I watch it, and dying to cook. A real delicacy.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A strange but endearing little film

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
1 June 2007

This interesting little film is set in a small town in France in 1960. Into a very conservative and self-satisfied town comes a strange Bohemian lady and her young daughter to open a chocolate shop. The fact that the child has no father and the shop opens during Lent sends some of the townspeople into a tizzy--particularly the Mayor who is like a human version of Sam the Eagle from the "Muppet Show"--both in looks and attitude. Despite the concerted efforts of many to drive her out of business, the lady's business survives--thanks to candy that seems to work magic on those who consume it. Later, a group of Gypsies arrive and for once, they are the most hated residents of the town--not the Chocolatier. How all this anger and animosity is worked out is something you'll just need to see for yourself.

Now some might watch this film and assume it is an attack on religion--it sure looks that way through much of the film. On one hand, you have the Chocatier who is good and never goes to church and on the other you have church goers who are all hypocrites. However, please DON'T give up on the film, as you later see that the lady does NOT have all the answers and the film is not an attack on religion, per se, but an attack on those who have a dogmatic devotion to rules and thereby ignore the spirit of Christianity. In many ways the film reminds me of ANTONIA (Best Foreign Picture Winner, 1995) except that unlike ANTONIA, this film is NOT meant as an angry attack on religion and seems less rabidly feminist. Both films actually have a very similar message, but CHOCOLAT is much more subtle and less angry--meaning it's a film that can be appreciated by most anyone regardless of their political or religious persuasion--especially since the film seems to call for religious reform not the elimination of religion altogether.

Also, oddly, the film reminded me quite a bit of another Dutch film, JA ZUSTER, NEE ZUSTER (Yes Sister, No Sister). Both feature a nice leading lady and her small group of friends who are constantly attacked by a very conservative and fun-hating neighbor who eventually comes to accept them in the end.

About the only serious negative in the film is Johnny Depp's character. He looks scruffy--just like Depp looks in real life. Considering this film was set in 1960, he really is an anachronism--being a 21st century hippie-like character plopped down in the early 1960s. His character just didn't make a lot of sense.

Regardless, this is a fun and highly entertaining film. Aside from a couple tiny scenes that make the film inappropriate for young kids, this is a film you can let your kids see (making it quite unlike ANTONIA).

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good film.

Author: caltechwomanalways from United States
4 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After just having seen it I understand why this is called one of the best films ever. This is neorealism and a big masterpiece. Everything are so simply put together and still so very touching( I actually started to cry in the end, I think it's the only film that have ever made me cry). The acting by the mother and child are more then perfect and so is the cinematography and the direction. This woman's character really shows the awfulness it is to be as poor as the family in the film.

I had expected this film to be a masterpiece but might not as touching and powerful as it really was. It's the simple story about a woman opening a chocalate store and the town's oppostion to her. How true and how sad. In this world, people's hearts grow colder by the second.

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