Chocolat (2002) Movie Review

“Chocolat” is a cheat. For me, that is. The movie has gotten a lot of exposure, what having been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and all. It’s a fine little movie, perhaps a little too sweet on top (pun intended), but all in all, it is a well-filmed, well-directed, and finely acted piece of fluff entertainment. There’s nothing really earth shattering about the production or the story, and I doubt if the filmmakers intended for the movie to be anything really “out-there.”

Juliette Binoche is just fine as the mother, a wandering spirit who, like her mother before her, has a need to go from town to town dispensing her own brand of cosmic sweets in the form of chocolates. She brings her daughter along, and her husband is strangely missing from their lives (and from the movie, since he’s never mentioned or seen). When the chocolate shop starts causing trouble with the normally stoic townspeople, its iron-fisted mayor (Molina) tries to crack down. You see, Molina runs the town not like a town, but like a concentration camp. He controls everything and everyone, including who gets to live there and who doesn’t.

Obviously, the conflict between Molina and Binoche’s character comes to the center in no time. But because “Chocolat” was not intended as a serious drama, you really have no trouble predicting what will happen and how everyone will change by the end of the flick, including our wandering chocolate saleslady.

As I said, “Chocolat” is not a bad movie, it’s actually a pretty good piece of fluff entertainment. The movie is well shot, the cinematography is beautiful. This is a British production, but everyone speaks with a French accent (though some are more successful than others).

Johnny Depp shows up halfway through the movie as a river rat, or some kind of gypsy, to romance Binoche. Carrie-Anne Moss of “Matrix” fame is almost unrecognizable in character and action as a widower who suffers from unrequited love with the stoic mayor. Of course, as you may have guessed, by the end of the movie they make headway towards a relationship with one another.

Lasse Hallström (director)
CAST: Juliette Binoche …. Vianne Rocher

Buy Chocolat on DVD