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Chocolat (2001)

Juliette Binoche , Judi Dench , Lasse Hallström  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,287 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Carrie-Anne Moss, Aurelien Parent Koenig
  • Directors: Lasse Hallström
  • Writers: Joanne Harris, Robert Nelson Jacobs
  • Producers: Alan C. Blomquist, Bob Weinstein, David Brown, Harvey Weinstein, Kit Golden
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: ALL
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,287 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000065KH4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,097 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chocolat" on IMDb

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great emotional lift. October 1, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lasse Hallstrom's film version of the Joanne Harris' novel Chocolat is as delightful a confection as were the heroines' chocolate creations themselves. The plot is intricate and intriguing, carrying the viewer through the emotional transformations of each of the main characters. In a sleepy medieval French town where life has assumed a repressive structure that has created an emotionally frozen and empty life for even the most highly placed members of its society, the heroine Vianne and her daughter arrive to set up a chocolate shop. With her wonderfully concocted sweets she manages to liberate some of the denizens of the town, revealing their potential for greater happiness. The story has a sense of myth, fantasy, and fairytale about it that leaves the viewer with a feeling of personal satisfaction.

This is a film full of strong female performers. Judi Dench is especially wonderful as a curmudgeonly elderly woman estranged from her daughter and forbidden to see her grandson. Juliette Binoche does a fine job as the heroine. She is as fragile and seductive as Monroe in some scenes and as forceful and independent as Bacall in others. Lena Olin is wonderful as the abused wife who rises from the confusion and ashes of her own ruined personality like a phoenix under the influence of the heroine.
This is one of the best movies I've seen in a ling while, and I expect to order and read the book upon which it was based--something I rarely do.
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126 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feel good treat that�s better than the book May 4, 2001
Format:DVD
Last year, I reviewed the book CHOCOLAT by Joanne Harris. I'm happy to report that this film adaptation is even better than the print version. And how often can one say that with a straight face?
The film begins with a north wind blowing Vianne (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) into a small French village at the very beginning of Lent, that pre-Easter period of time, which, in the Catholic liturgy, is dedicated to prayer and physical self-denial. It's not a good time for Vianne, an apparent non-Christian, to open up a chocolate shop across the town square from the church. But, she does so anyway, much to the dismay of the village mayor, the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina). Reynaud is puritanically determined to shut the shop down, and Vianne is equally determined to keep it open. An irresistible force meets an immovable object.
CHOCOLAT, both the book and movie, is a whimsical comedy that blossoms as Lent progresses, and Vianne's shop becomes a place of healing and sanctuary for several of the town's troubled residents. Because Vianne's store is seen (by the local Church establishment) as diametrically opposed to the spirit of the season, the story can also be taken as a gentle fable of conflict between Christianity and paganism.
Juliette Binoche is exquisite in her role. (I think I'm in love.) Judi Dench is her usual superb best as Armande, an aged widow deprived of her grandson's company by an over-protective mother, Armande's own daughter (Carrie-Anne Moss). There's also a small role played by Leslie Caron. (Where's she been in recent years?) And Alfred Molina is positively brilliant as the uptight mayor, so dominant that he personally writes the Sunday sermons to be delivered by the local pastor, Fr.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand November 3, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Joanne Harris, the writer of the novel, Chocolat, is apparently a confectionery genius, for this story leaves a wonderful taste in your mouth. Although I have not read the novel, the movie is delightfully rich and creamy.
Vianne (Juliette Binoche) is a "chocolatier extraordinaire," having the best chocolate in all of France and possibly the entire world. She and daughter, Anouk, set up shop in a small French village rife with religious zealots led by the mayor, Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), who is intent on keeping the town chocolate-less. It is the timeless game of religious piety versus sincere brotherly love as portrayed in the lead characters.
Vianne seeks to sweeten the lives of the villagers in town with her secret panacea, especially the religious rejects like Armande Voizin (Judi Dench). She is a crusty old woman, the antipathy of her daughter, forbidden to see her own grandson living in town. Moreover, there is an abused wife (Lena Olin), who finds refuge from her husband, not in the church, but in the chocolate shop. And finally, if this is not enough to drive a group of religious fundamentalists insane, there is Roux (Johnny Depp), a member of the River Rats, a nomadic tribe of gypsies, who develops an interest in Vianne. What will become of this little village? Will chocolate win out in the end, or will the town remain a traditional vanilla?
Binoche is sweeter than chocolate in the lead role, and equally impressive is Molina in his role as the mayor. Judi Dench and Lena Olin put in outstanding performances in their supporting roles as well.
This is a movie with substance, dealing with societal issues; and furthermore, showing the power of human kindness and tolerance for those with differing lifestyles. This one melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate reforms the church! November 5, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is an American movie directed by Swedish born director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, 1999; Something to Talk About, 1995), set in France with a distinct French flavor. The cast, headed by the very talented Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher, a wandering proprietress of chocolate, is highly accomplished and very much worth watching. Judi Dench has a substantial role as the cranky Armande, and Johnny Depp makes a belated appearance as Binoche's love interest, Roux, the River Rat. Alfred Molina plays the small town's semi-fascist Catholic mayor, Comte Paul de Reynaud. With his slicked-back, straight black hair and the precise black mustache and his imposing countenance, one is somehow reminded of Count Dracula. Leslie Caron (An American in Paris, 1951; The L-Shaped Room, 1963), now in her seventies, has a small part as the widow Madame Audel. Carrie Anne-Moss of Matrix fame (but I recall her most memorably in Memento, 2000) plays Armande's strait-laced and estranged daughter. Noteworthy is the captivating Victoire Thivisol as Anouk Rocher, Vianne's nine-year-old daughter. Thivisol won the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival in 1996 for her work as a four-year-old (!) in Ponette (1996). She is surely the youngest actor ever to win such an award.

Chocolat is also a kind of modern Dionysian morality tale in reverse with the Catholic church and small town narrow-mindedness as the bad guys. It gets more than a bit sappy at times, and the unrelenting celebration of outsiders and non-conformists is wearisome and sorely tried my patience throughout. However, just as is the case with chocolate with its uplifting qualities amidst the lure to overindulgence, the good surely outweighs the bad.
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