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Chocolat (2000)

December. 22,2000
| Drama Comedy Romance

A mother and daughter move to a small French town where they open a chocolate shop. The town, religious and morally strict, is against them, as they represent free-thinking and indulgence. When a group of Boat Gypsies float down the river, the prejudice of the Mayor leads to a crisis.


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Lack of good storyline.


Entertaining from beginning to end, it maintains the spirit of the franchise while establishing it's own seal with a fun cast


I think this is a new genre that they're all sort of working their way through it and haven't got all the kinks worked out yet but it's a genre that works for me.


I selected this movie to view, as is my usual preference, randomly without knowing who is in it, who directed it or even knowing what it's about. I don't "follow" people who perform for me or people who tell them what to say.Starting with the story, I liked it from the first frame to the last. It is sweet, like chocolate but it can also be bitter also like chocolate. And decadent and frivolous and slightly sinful. Throughout the movie I tasted hints of Beauty and the Beast, Princess Bride, Mary Poppins and Peter Pan among other classic cinema treats. As with chocolates it has tasty overtones of all of them but remains its own singular blend of deliciousness.The production values are superb. Set mostly in a real French village it has an earthiness that can't be recreated in miniature models or digital effects, although some of the interior set designs at Shepperton studios seem a bit tacky and cheesy and the aerial shots of the village were in fact digitally enchanced. The lighting mood is lifelike, the use of music and sound effects is so spot on never once did it jar or distract. The action flow, editing, costumes (for the most part) all were as perfect as a forest scene from Snow White.All of this deserves a positive rating.But, like the dastardly villain, when it comes to rating the acting not all is so rosy in LaLa Land.Starting with the lead character Vianne, whose pivotal role wept for an actress blessed with a sense of magic and mystery and the free spirit of a pixie sprite, a Mary Poppins/Peter Pan if you will. Instead we get a lackluster performance by billionaire Juliette Binoche looking like a billionaire who just interrupted her shopping trip on Rodeo Drive to walk woodenly around a movie set in expensive designer dresses looking like none other than Juliette Binoche. I'm usually not one for movie remakes but here's one that screams to be remade with a less clueless actress cast as Vianne, perhaps Barbra Streisand (I'm kidding of course).The other lead character, Comte de Reynaud, acted by Alfred Molina was a comic book caricature but then again this is a fantasy movie so I'll tolerate his over-the-top slapstick, but I did find what he did to the character boring. As with Ms. Binoche, it's hard to get into a movie when you can't get out of your head that you're watching multi-millionaire actors.Ditto for Judi Dench as Armande. No matter what the role, if Judi Dench is in it you're going to be watching Judi Dench play Judi Dench. To give you an idea how expendable her role was when she finally died it seemed to be the biggest "ho hum" moment in theater history. No one even said "oh darn she's dead".That being the case I dreaded the appearance of Johnny Depp, expecting all of the above and in spades. Mr. Depp is infamous for playing himself in every role and it's virtually impossible to separate his Hollywood persona from what he does on screen. His character, Roux, doesn't even make an appearance until 52 minutes into the movie and what's this, he's not mumbling, or acting weird, or primping himself, or even acting like actor Johnny Depp. His portrayal is actually subtle and nuanced and believable. And likable. Mon Dieu! He almost single-handedly made up for a whole lot of bad casting decisions.He almost does but not completely. Hugh O'Conor STEALS the entire movie and one is continually left with the sinful desire to see more of him. His fidgety nervousness and blushed cheeks have you wondering what mortal pleasures he's contemplating while in the darkened confessional or standing upright behind the solid wood pulpit. Not since Dustin Hoffman's brilliant "gulp" in Mrs. Robinson's sun room has an actor so brilliantly captured the essence of a naive and conflicted young man who is the odd cog in everyone else's wheel. Yet unlike the other look-at-me celebrities pretending to act like they are someone else, Mr. O'Conor come across like he's not really acting, that he really is Pere Henri and you just want to jump naked into the confessional with him and lip sync "You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog" with him... the highest compliment that could be paid to any actor.The only quirky thing that threw this movie off balance a little bit for me was the odd setting for that type of river in the town of Flavigny sur Ozerain, which from all of the establishing camera angle views does not seem like it would be on the banks of a river straight out of Deliverance. It doesn't look very French or like it would flow adjacent to such a village.I liked this movie despite some miscast roles but will still take away extra points for the unapologetic animal abuse portrayal (feeding chocolate to dogs can kill them) and the fact that it is a Harvey Weinstein movie and it hasn't been banned. Hmm, maybe there is a connection after all to Weinstein, certain women's casting assignments and abusing dogs?

Rainey Dawn

A fable of emotional liberation and chocolate. A mother and daughter move to a small French town where they open a chocolate shop. The town, religious and morally strict, is against them as they represent free-thinking and indulgence. When a group of Boat Gypsies float down the river the prejudices of the Mayor leads to a crisis.

Filipe Neto

This film is a kind of modern tale and speaks essentially of the right to be different and of the injustice we can commit when judging a person we do not know simply because it is different from us. The story, set in a small French conservative village in the sixties, shows the difficulties a woman feels in integrating and thriving a factory of handmade chocolates. The problem is that this woman does not fit into that society, outdated by nature and led by a deeply backward aristocrat, clinging to the ancient privileges of her lineage. She is modern, single mom and her sweet ones have the ability to awaken the most secret desires of those who eat them. It gets worse later, with the arrival of a group of gypsies, which the village initially faces as dangerous rioters. For those who are inattentive, the film may seem like a harsh criticism of the Catholic Church and conservatism, but it is not. It uses religion as a vehicle for criticizing hypocrisy, those people who speak one thing and act in a totally opposite way for convenience, shyness or fear of criticism.The film has excellent scenarios and everything fits very well in context and historical time. The connection between Vianne and the ancient Amerindian people seems a bit forced but ends up being digestible with the unfolding of the film. The actors generally did a great job, but there are three that deserve a special mention, on merit: Juliette Binoche, who plays Vianne in a very pleasant and convincing way, Alfred Molina, in the role of the ultra-conservative Count and Judi Dench, who gave life to the eccentric Armande. The film also features Johnny Depp as the gypsy boss, but he is clearly lefting in this film. His character does not fit well and he lacks chemistry with the cast, particularly Binoche. It was a mistake to conceive his character the way it was conceived.

Elo Cinquanta

This is truly a "Feel Good" movie. A movie that I love to watch and watch again and again, especially when I feel bad. A very nice story, full of sweetness and sweets. Great actors, beautiful music, very nice scenery. It shows a very nice small French village, very typical, very authentic. The characters are very interesting, each one got a specific character and even the "bad guys" can be "liked" in some ways. Every one has a special history. Well just a little touch of everything to make a delicious movie to watch alone or not :) And not to say that it speaks of CHOCOLATE and for a chocolate lover it's just the PERFECT "Feel Good" movie to watch with a real hot chocolate (with spicy pepper) !!!