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Chocolat (2016)

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The rise and fall of the famous clown Chocolat, the first black circus performer who revolutionised the stagnant circus acts and conquered Paris of the Belle Époque with his exuberance and originality.

Director:

Roschdy Zem

Writers:

Cyril Gely (screenplay), Olivier Gorce (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
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4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Omar Sy ... Rafael Padilla dit Chocolat
James Thierrée James Thierrée ... George Footit dit Footit (as James Thiérrée)
Clotilde Hesme ... Marie Hecquet
Olivier Gourmet ... Joseph Oller
Frédéric Pierrot ... Théodore Delvaux
Noémie Lvovsky ... Yvonne Delvaux
Alice de Lencquesaing Alice de Lencquesaing ... Camille
Alex Descas ... Victor
Olivier Rabourdin ... Firmin Gemier
Thibault de Montalembert Thibault de Montalembert ... Jules Moy
Héléna Soubeyrand ... Régina Badet
Xavier Beauvois ... Jacques Potin
Christophe Fluder Christophe Fluder ... Marval, le lilliputien (as Krystoff Fluder)
Antonin Maurel Antonin Maurel ... Le clown Ortis
Mick Holsbeke Mick Holsbeke ... Le clown Green
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Storyline

The life story of Rafael Padilla, a former slave in Cuba, who unexpectedly became a star clown in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Discovered in a small country circus in the North of France by George Footit, a British clown and acrobat, he formed a successful duo with him, 'Footit and Chocolat'. For two decades, and despite conflicts between the two artists, Footit as the authoritarian white clown and Chocolat as the Auguste Black drudge filled crowds with enthusiasm. But nothing lasts forever and the glory of Chocolat, despite his high ambitions, started to decline until his premature death in 1917. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of the first black artist.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

3 February 2016 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Monsieur Chocolat See more »

Filming Locations:

Theuville, Val-d'Oise, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (as Dolby 5.1)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In France the film had 1.68 million admissions in four weeks. See more »

Goofs

When leaving for Paris, Chocolat throws his bag on the carriage roof next to Footit's suitcase. In the city while walking up to Nouveau Cirque, Footit is carrying his suitcase but Chocolat's bag is strangely missing. See more »

Quotes

Rafael Padilla dit Chocolat: We don't play dice in Africa... We play with the bones of whites!
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User Reviews

 
A poignant tragedy about the rise and fall of an incredibly gifted individual.
16 June 2017 | by AlexFalzonSee all my reviews

Outside of a couple of small roles in Hollywood blockbusters X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World, I'd only ever seen Omar Sy in Intouchables, which was excellent, and in which he was excellent. He is also excellent in Chocolat (not to be confused with the 2000 film Chocolat, which is unrelated. Entirely.).

Based on a true story (quite loosely, according to my very limited amount of research), Chocolat tells the story of a black man (Chocolat) who serves as a circus' "cannibal" before agreeing to partner with a famous, though struggling, clown named Foottit, in doing so becoming the first black clown to head an act in France. Their partnership quickly garners the attention and adoration of the country, and they're recruited into Paris' Nouveau Cirque, where their fame only continues to grow.

The performances by Sy and his counterpart James Thiérrée (playing George Foottit) are captivating as the two men show us a relationship where both parties care deeply for each other even as they resent their mutual reliance. While we do get a taste for Foottit's own struggles outside of the circus, the majority of the film focuses on Chocolat's adjustment to the big city and the people who live in it. While he is ecstatic about how much money he is making and loves the spotlight, he lets fame go to his head, develops a gambling problem (when he's not wasting all of his money on trivial purchases), and endures the racism that comes from all directions, even from his most devoted fans. Eventually he decides on a bold change of career.

Where the film let me down was in its disjointedness; the film leaps ahead many times, as biopics are wont to do. However, each time we leap ahead, the film leaves behind an element of the story, never to be seen again. We are left to assume, I suppose, that the problems still present at the culmination of one time-period have been settled by the time the next begins. This is a film without any sense of resolution, which, while adding to its tragic nature, also left me feeling unsatisfied as the credits began to roll. What happened to all of the other characters we met along the way? Why make such a big deal out of them if they mattered so little to the story?

Outside of the performances, which, again, were stellar, I also very much enjoyed the music, editing and cinematography. The film was put together very well in all technical aspects, even utilising some archive footage right at the end which was very touching.

I'm not sure that it's a film I'd recommend to the everyday movie- goer, due to its confusing storyline-abandonments and its general deviation from historical fact, but it is one that I'd recommend to fans of Omar Sy (and James Thiérrée, who, by the way, is the grandson of Charlie Chaplin, and this adds another element of entertainment to his physical antics). Chocolat is a poignant tragedy about the rise and fall of an incredibly gifted individual and the partner with whom he shared fame.

alexfalzon.com - for more reviews.


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