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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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I watched it because we had recently visited one of the locations in which it was filmed (Beynac). The Perigord region in which Beynac is located (on the Dordogne River) is... Read morePublished 3 days ago by ess
A delightful story about a woman who used the magic of chocolate to end misunderstanding and prejudice in a stiff and proper French village. A happy ever after telePublished 3 days ago by witch
Received inferior Canadian version of movie that for some reason is only 1080i. Make sure you buy the Ultra Violet version of the Blu Ray disc for the full resolution version of... Read morePublished 4 days ago by William Savona
Good movie. A little Romance, a little magical, a little comedy, a little drama and to top off a little chocolate.Published 4 days ago by Stanley J Gray
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