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Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series) (2000)

1 rating: 3.0
Art House & International, Drama, and Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Lasse Hallström

With movies likeChocolat, it's always best to relax your intellectual faculties and absorb the abundant sensual pleasures, be it the heart-stopping smile of chocolatier Juliette Binoche as she greets a new customer, an intoxicating cup of spiced hot … see full wiki

Director: Lasse Hallström
Genre: Foreign, Mystery, Drama
1 review about Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series) (2000)

It's a "Food Movie" ...

  • Dec 13, 2009
Rating:
+3
.... a special genre, a rule unto itself! That's how it tasted to me, anyway ... a pretty confection, like a chocolate-filled eclair, though the chocolate had just a hint of pepper. I might have preferred MORE food, a longer culinary build-up to the birthday feast that becomes the turning-point of the story. It's also a film in the vein of "magic realism" established by Latin American novelists. One can't help comparing it to "Like Water for Chocolate." That comparison does expose the shortcomings of Chocolat: there's not enough of the manic energy, there's nothing quite as funny or as poignant, and the acting isn't half as good. Johnny Depp is more mannequin than Man, more Hollywood pirate than Gallic gypsy. Juliette Binoche plays her role more as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother than as the half-Mayan sorceress she's supposed to be. Only veteran actress Judi Dench shows theatrical savvy -- control of her body, ability to express large emotions with a flicker of her eyes or lips, 'economy' of gesture and posture. She can act!

There are quite a few vitriolic one-star reviews of this film. Many of them compare it unfavorably to the book; since I haven't read the book, I can only suppose they have a point, but I don't much care. The film was a sweet treat, the sort of confection it's best to forget you've eaten lest you feel guilty about your waist-line or waste-time. Other reviews denounce the film as being hostile to religion, specifically to conservative Catholicism. They are correct. Vianne, the chocolate-sorceress, is indeed an atheist, though her stance seems mostly gratuitous. Her 'adversary' in the film is not the puppy priest but the repressed, hypocritical Count. Yes, the film can be taken as anti-clerical, and if you are fundamentally an anti-disestablishmentarian, you'd be wise to skip it.

Perhaps the best part of the film is the photography of the village near Toulouse. Yes, dears, there ARE villages in France just as picturesque and unspoiled as that one, and with any luck you'll find a celebrated gourmet restaurant there. Bon appétit!

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