Accompanying Inspector Japp to Brussels, who is receiving an award from the Belgian government, Hercule Poirot tells him a case from 20 years before. Poirot was a young policeman at the time and at the request of Virginie Mesnard, agrees to investigate the death of rising young politician, Paul Deroulard. The courts had already ruled that he had died of a heart attack, but she believes he was murdered. Poirot believed Deroulard had been poisoned, likely from a box of chocolates he had been given by an aristocrat, Xavier St. Alard. In the end, Poirot identified the killer, even obtaining a confession, but chose not to make it public, for reasons that he explains to his colleagues. Written by
The filming locations are carefully chosen as some of the finest in Brussels. However, when Poirot and Japp arrive in "Gare de Bruxelles" - Brussels station, it is actually filmed in Antwerp. Brussels South station, as it would have been for Poirot to arrive from England, has been demolished in the 1950s. Other locations include the Grand Place (bronze statue of t'Serclaes), the tramway museum in Brussels Woluwe, the Cinquantenaire park and triumphal arch, the St-Jan and St-Stephanuschurch. Furthermore the court scenes were filmed in the Brussels Palais of Justice, which was the biggest built in the 19th century in Europe at the time. See more »
Can't you understand! It's our future and Belgium's future that I'm thinking of! The Catholic church has narrowed your mind, Marianne, just as it has my mother's.
But don't you see, Paul? You keep asking me to choose between *you* and my *faith*.
I can't believe what you're saying, Marianne. You mean fresh ideas have no place in your mind? My God, we're into a new century, but you are *stuck* in the last! Just like your damned clergy.
Attacking the church won't help Belgium, Paul. ...
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Hercule Poirot returns to Brussels after 20 years, traveling along with Inspector Japp who is invited there to be honored for his services to Belgium. Meeting his assistant from the days when he was still just a rookie police officer, Poirot remembers an old case from that period - the death of an ambitious Belgian government official that was attributed to heart failure. Poirot claims that the verdict was wrong, and proceeds to tell Japp the whole story.
"The Chocolate Box" is one of the best "Poirot" episodes since "Wasp's Nest", mainly for the same reason: because it moves away from the usual formula of the series and tries something different. It offers a glimpse at the earliest parts of Poirot's career - earlier even than "The Mysterious Affair At Styles" where he had already moved to England. It's also one of the very rare instances where we see Poirot involved in a subtly romantic relationship with a lady (the lovely Anna Chancellor). There is no investigation in the present - Poirot had actually solved the case in the past, and we get to see how in some beautifully done flashbacks. And the case is really quite simple - the clues are right there in front of you, but you still won't notice them. (***)
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