Chocolat Review

Chocolat is a drama/romance film that debuted on December 15, 2000.

When the movie opens, we are introduced to the very religious townspeople, although some members are not so innocent.

Vianne Rocher  (Juliette Binoche) and her six year old daughter, Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), have just arrived in town. After they rent a room, Anouk asks her mother, “how long are we going to stay?” Vianne admits to not knowing the answer to that question.

The Mayor, Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) immediately shows up to their room, without warning, and invites them to church on Sunday. The mayor insinuates that Vianne has unabashed behavior and her timing to opening the shop was inappropriate (before Lent).

Vianne gets to work setting up her chocolate shop so that she can start serving her sweets to the townspeople, as soon as possible. She invites them in to sample her tasty treats. Josephine Muscat (Lena Olin) buys some chocolate and Vianne throws in a small bonus treat for her husband. When she gets home she throws the bag of chocolates into the trash and when her husband, Serge (Peter Stormare) takes a break from watching TV he finds it and tastes a small sample. He gets a sudden boost of libido and he immediately wants to make love to his wife. She goes back to chocolatier and purchases another bag of sweets.

Some folks just stared in through the window, but never dared to enter the store. Vianne was instantly judged by the women, without even knowing a thing about her. Others walked in and straight back out of the shop without purchasing anything.

A gentlemen, Guillaume Blerot (John Wood) and his fourteen year old dog, Charlie, become interested in the shop and are invited in by Vianne. He is pressured by the mayor to not befriend Vianne, so he avoids her like she has a disease.

The mayor visits Father Pere Henri (Hugh O’Conor) and warns him about the chocolatier and to stay clear of the antagonist, Mrs. Rocher. The father passes by the shop just to see what the mayor is raving about, but he continues on his way without introducing himself.

Vianne confronts the mayor about the nasty rumors that he is spreading about her and he in turns threatens her with shutting down her shop. She becomes enraged and goes outside to take it out on his statue.

Josephine begins to trust Vianne and admits to not wanting to go to church on Sunday, but if she did not then she would become the subject of repulsive rumors. She admits to not loving Serge and wants to leave him. Vianne encourages her to do what she desires and she does just that, but he is not willing to let her go that easy. He breaks into the shop and tries to force Josephine to return to their home, she refuses, he becomes upset and attacks the two ladies. They overtake him with a frying pan and leave him in front of the church on Sunday morning. 

Vianne brings together an estranged grandmother, Armande (Judi Dench) and her grandson, Luc Clairmont (Aurelien Parent-Koenig) by enticing them with chocolate. They meet at the shop without the mother, Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss) knowing, but it doesn’t take her very long to figure it out. Caroline exposes to everyone the fact that Armande is suffering from diabetes and should not be eating chocolate.  

The pirates come to town, Vianne and Anouk rush to the dock to welcome them to Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes. She meets Roux (Johnny Depp). He thinks that she has come to accuse him of committing a crime in their town. He warns her about befriending the pirates because no one trusts or likes them. She just shakes it off and purchases two necklaces from him, which the mayor sneakingly witnesses. The mayor holds a special town meeting and encourages everyone to avoid the pirates, which everyone does, except for Vianne.

Vianne has a special sense that allows her to know everyone’s favorite chocolate candy, but she just cannot seem to figure out Roux’s favorite, no matter how hard she tries.

Vianne throws a party for the townspeople and the pirates, but not the mayor, and stuffs everyone with her delightful chocolates. The next party will be on Roux’s boat. At first everyone hesitates until Armande politely threatens them. The mayor and Serge become very upset and swear to get even with Vianne and Josephine, sooner rather than later. The two scoundrels set fire to Roux’s boat and burn it to the ground. 

Luc escorts his grandmother home, against his mother’s wishes. Vianne and Roux have a short romantic getaway on a floating boat. Anouk runs away from home because she dislikes the town and the people, Josephine locates her after a time and brings her home. 

Armande dies of an apparent diabetic coma and Vianne is forced to pack her belongings and leave the town behind. 

Will Vianne be convinced by Josephine, Luc, and Caroline to stay or will she again follow the northern winds? 

Will the mayor transform his abhorrent ways and become a kind, gentle soul?

Afterword

If you are a romantic fanatic, you will love Chocolat. It is filled with mystery, romance, and fantasy. There are so many different emotions shown by each and every character in this film. Coming from a family that moved from state to state my entire life I can relate to Vianne. She appears to be running from her troubles and does not know how to stand strong and face them, until she meets these most-loving townspeople, who refuse to let her repeat her repetitive movements again. 

Review

If you are into to fantasy and romance you should watch this film. The cinematography is beautiful and the screenplay is perfect. Juliette Binoche did a fabulous job in her leading role as Vianne. The supporting actresses, Judi Dench and Lena Olin definitely performed superbly and upheld their roles extremely well. This movie deserves an 8.5 out of 10. 

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