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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.16%
Worth A Look35.06%
Average: 22.41%
Pretty Bad: 3.45%
Total Crap: 10.92%

10 reviews, 114 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Succulent and delicious. That's Juliette Binoche. The movie's OK, too."
4 stars

Director Lasse Hallstrom's last project, "The Cider House Rules," was so desperately overrated that it's good to see his latest film, "Chocolat," turn out so light and frothy there's no way it can suffer the same fate. It will be more or less enjoyed by audiences, and then quickly forgotten.

Director Lasse Hallstrom's last project, "The Cider House Rules," was so desperately overrated that it's good to see his latest film, "Chocolat," turn out so light and frothy there's no way it can suffer the same fate. It will be more or less enjoyed by audiences, and then quickly forgotten.

Based on a novel by Joanne Harris, "Chocolat" is a fable set in 1959 in the picturesque little French village of Lansquenet. It's an old-fashioned place where everyone goes to church on Sunday and where the mega-pious nobleman Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) wields more power than the town's priest (Hugh O‚Conor). (In one amusing sequence, the Comte ghost-writes the priest's sermons.)

Everything is calm, serene and inordinately Catholic until one Sunday, when a "clever northern wind" blows a woman and her young daughter into town. The woman is Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), a pretty woman of mystical original; her daughter is Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), a girl tired of living a gypsy's life with her rootless mother.

Vianne rents a shop from the town maverick, an independently minded old woman named Armande (Judi Dench). The shop becomes a chocolaterie (its decor described as "early Mexican brothel"), which proves to be ill-timed, due to the town's universally enforced observance of Lent. But once the days of abstinence are over, it's every bit the local hangout.

Predictably, this disturbs the Comte, who is opposed to anything new on the grounds that it will corrupt the people. Indeed, Vianne has a mysterious ability to divine people's favorite confections, and one chocolate even acts as a libido-enhancer. The Comte tries to turn the people against the shop, and also against the boat full of wanderers including one Vianne has a thing for, played by Johnny Depp) that floats by.

On the Comte's side is Armande's estranged and prissy daughter, Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss) and oafish bartender Serge (Peter Stormare). On Vianne's side is pretty much everyone else, most notably Serge's abused wife Josephine (Lena Olin).

I don't know whether it's intentional, but the basic plot is extremely reminiscent of "Mary Poppins," of all things. A strange woman of unknown origins literally blows in on the wind and instantly charms everyone she meets in a repressed society. She performs little acts of magic without fanfare and noses her way confidently into everyone's business, fixing marriages, repairing relationships and helping everyone see the light. Her chocolates, I'm guessing, each contain one spoonful of sugar.

The story is not meant to be taken literally, which one must keep remembering lest one be annoyed at the absurdity of certain events. Not quite as forgivable, however, is the film's over-simplified devices. When Serge roars that Josephine doesn't even know how to use a skillet, it is only a matter of moments before she conquers him by whacking him in the head with one. Since the film has a candy that increases your sex drive, and since the film also has a dog, one may predict with great certainty that one of them will eat the other.

That simplicity leaks into the film as a whole, too, which proves to be a good thing in the succinct way platitudes are spoken. "We can't go around measuring our goodness by what we DON'T do," someone says, tying everything up pretty nicely.

The performances are strong. Alfred Molina gives his Comte character more depth and complexity than the film deserves, and much more than the main character gets (though Juliette Binoche admittedly is an appealing star). Judi Dench (love her!), one of the great experts in making a supporting role seem like the lead, seems perfectly suited to play the rebellious senior citizen who doesn't care for the town's stick-in-the-mud attitude any more than Vianne does.

And let's not forget young Victoire Thivisol, who plays Anouk. At the age of 4, Thivisol played the title role in the French film "Ponette," a beautiful and uplifting story about a girl whose mother has died. (It was the "Life Is Beautiful" of the mid-'90s.) She became the youngest person ever to win the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival that year, and while her work in "Chocolat" is not extraordinary, it is better than most child actors can muster. The rest of the movie, well, it's nothing great. But keep an eye on those performers, because they're the best reason to keep watching.

It's the performers who make "Chocolat" seem just a little better than the light piffle it really is.

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originally posted: 01/07/01 07:08:33
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User Comments

7/19/15 Göran Dath A chocolate commercial movie 2 stars
12/30/14 Lina A thoroughly charming film. Very engaging cast. 4 stars
11/02/10 Martin Waddington A Gallic rural idyll, tempting us to buy into French real estate 4 stars
2/03/10 Tony Crane Too much of the typical sterotypes of religious people totally against any form of pleasure 2 stars
8/02/09 Samantha Pruitt Johnny Depp is totally hot! a really sweet movie! 4 stars
1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Wonderful story. 4 stars
1/01/09 mish cute - if only life's problems could really be solved by opening a chocolaterie. 4 stars
9/16/08 Sarah I watch this every Easter. It is a delighful film about tolerance and chocolate. Yum! 4 stars
9/07/08 Pamela White wonderful how one person can change many 5 stars
11/26/06 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 3 stars
8/18/06 Kat Sweet story, really enjoyable to watch, wonderful acting, a believeable fairytale.Love it!! 5 stars
11/01/05 missjie86 I love this film. 5 stars
10/24/04 john bale A visually pleasing modern fable with great cast and feeling for the era 4 stars
10/17/04 Jasmine_xoxo I watch this over and over. LOVE this one. 5 stars
6/25/04 Ray Good 4 stars
3/10/04 Ash Roux can melt my chocolat any day! 5 stars
3/05/04 Monster W. Kung Crap 1 stars
12/28/03 Caitlin A great romance with beautiful Johnny Depp 4 stars
8/19/03 feray yapucu ýt's perfect!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/18/03 R.W. Welch Lightweight fable done by solid cast...Molina nails his role. 4 stars
5/04/03 sleepy depp was delicious! 5 stars
4/08/03 Mystique sweet 4 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones A Big Chocolat-Coated Kebab - Bowel-Filling 1 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Fun, Sassy, and Touching. 4 stars
10/01/02 hum charming 4 stars
7/22/02 2.718281828459045... Better than all the films that robbed it of Oscars. And take French 101, Flick Chick! 4 stars
7/17/02 ___ ___ 1 stars
4/19/02 Monster W. Kung Ridiculously manipulative, and the characters are all cardboard cutouts. 2 stars
4/02/02 El Talboto A chick flick, but I liked the story 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Cute. Boring. 3 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick is dropping the e on chocolate supposed to make it more special? 3 stars
10/22/01 muddy I love it! 5 stars
10/09/01 Monday Morning And on the sixth day, when He was really tired, God made chick flicks. 3 stars
9/25/01 Embre LOVED IT! 5 stars
9/06/01 Goldhammer The message: self-restraint, to any degree, is unacceptable. This movie is plain evil. 1 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm HEADLINE: Depp makes first wrong move. 1 stars
8/29/01 Gary Smug, pretentious and interminable. Everything apart for Olin was false and sugarcoated. 1 stars
8/23/01 brentley it was ok, but didn't live up to all the hype. 4 stars
7/02/01 dan Juliette Binoche.....You can give me Chocolat anytime......I need it 5 stars
4/18/01 sara fantastic 5 stars
4/13/01 Jake What a joy this film was to watch. 5 stars
4/07/01 Poopie Garrison I loved the movie! and Johnny Depp! 5 stars
4/06/01 Mona Symbolic, colorful, easygoing, catchy, dreamy, good acting, clean humor! 4 stars
4/03/01 R-Dub Bloody good film, if you ask me... but you don't. Ah well. 4 stars
3/30/01 Vivienne X This reviewer SUCKS! Dancer took it in the ASS. Loved Chocolat. 5 stars
3/29/01 desdemona a must see movie,not ur average film where there is swearing every 2sec & shooting every 10 5 stars
3/28/01 Arielle Original, Amusing, and Uplifting 5 stars
3/28/01 wabishi Not perfect: literally preachy at the end. But a fine romantic romp. 4 stars
3/28/01 Matthew Bartley Haha Miramax fuck off you won nothing! 2 stars
3/27/01 Omer Enginertan I have never seen something more beautiful. 5 stars
3/27/01 Rumpelerna Incredible - I loved it - A MUST see !!! 5 stars
3/26/01 Dork Dangler Christian = Evil & Ignorant. Pagan=Good & Enlightened. Typical PC Crap 1 stars
3/26/01 michael jordan it sucks the sweat of the dead man's sweaty ball sack 1 stars
3/26/01 Des Delightful - simple on the surface but a lot going on 5 stars
3/25/01 B Gaul Above average film 4 stars
3/25/01 jypsygrrl Luscious Mmmmmovie..... 4 stars
3/25/01 John J One of the best I've watched so far. Tackles self-righteousness and acceptance. 5 stars
3/24/01 shelley Legalism and Judgmentalism vs. Acceptance and Tolerance - What a Great Idea!!!!! 5 stars
3/23/01 Dieto Rothfuss Refreshing, pleasant, not the usual Hollywood crap 5 stars
3/23/01 matthew smith an indulging experience 5 stars
3/23/01 Sandra Mann Loved it. 5 stars
3/23/01 judy Wonderful movie!!! 5 stars
3/23/01 cristina one of the best ones, johnny's ever played!! 5 stars
3/22/01 Stephanie M Explains the reason why I left church - tired of being measured by what evils I avoided. 5 stars
3/20/01 Jonathan Loved it. 5 stars
3/20/01 Elena VERY GOOD! FANTASTIC!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/20/01 vpitman "Pretty movie" Good actors/characters, mediocre story. Like "A Walk In the Clouds" 4 stars
3/19/01 J.Arcane Warming fairytale vibe - pretty good stuff 4 stars
3/18/01 Sylvia What a wonderful story with fabulous acting and intense character interaction. 5 stars
3/15/01 rachel loved the small french was one of the best movies i've seen in a long time! 5 stars
3/14/01 Colby Droscher No one seems to be understanding that it was a comedy peice. 5 stars
3/13/01 Siannan This is a must see!! 5 stars
3/12/01 E.Carter Good movie--nothing offensive 4 stars
3/12/01 M. Adrienne Profound in a light-hearted style. great! 5 stars
3/12/01 Gray Olin and Binoche are great. Nothing else is. 2 stars
3/11/01 Caitlin I thought it was cute, original, and it made chocolate seem magical. 5 stars
3/09/01 YelloMiata@AOL.COM It really, really tried to make my wife cry. At least it made us laugh a bit. 3 stars
3/08/01 Michael Fazio No Good 1 stars
3/05/01 Holly fabulous 5 stars
3/04/01 Ina Whitmore wondeful story with strong moral overtone 5 stars
3/04/01 Suzz good but not great 4 stars
3/02/01 ObiWan This is an extremely passionate film -- superbly acted and directed 5 stars
2/28/01 Ticiana Maria Ramos de Castro Excellent ! Creative and delicious ! 4 stars
2/28/01 Liddy Ross The best film in many, many years!! 5 stars
2/26/01 Mijung Park enthusiastic favor! attractive Bien! 4 stars
2/26/01 Onyx Loved it. A beautiful film and Juliette Binoche is radiant. 5 stars
2/25/01 Chris No tone. A stealth backlash movie. Pretty coating+Vile interior=bad chocolate 1 stars
2/24/01 Tara Johnny Depp does an AMAZING job!! 5 stars
2/23/01 viking Not bad, but Babette's feast was a hundred times better 4 stars
2/23/01 Elizabeth Visser Needed more depth and more Depp 5 stars
2/23/01 eugene Carrie-Anne Moss is hot as always. Otherwise, film is a bomb. 4 stars
2/19/01 Richard B Delightful, light and sweet 4 stars
2/18/01 Robert too saccharine and predictable and absurd at time 3 stars
2/17/01 Bitcholat Johnny Depp & Alfred Molina were the highlights. But the smiling statue was fucking stupid 3 stars
2/17/01 Michael Nicholls Ohhhh...Chocalat isn't tasty, prolongs the agony of abesity! 1 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi One of the better romantic films out there. Not as cliche as some would have you think. 5 stars
2/13/01 Judith Horn a awespme movie, which I would see again and recommend 5 stars
2/12/01 Duckworth Catholic-bashing from people who've never been in a church 1 stars
2/11/01 Leather jacket Life is not exactly a box of chocolates 2 stars
2/09/01 billy bob brubake this film sucks 1 stars
2/08/01 Johnny Figaro Stale, utterly unsurprising plot made of tired devices. Good cast makes it bearable. 3 stars
1/24/01 Jane Parker visually satisfying 4 stars
1/20/01 Ground Zero 2 words Johnny Depp 4 stars
1/17/01 Kirsten Sweet story. Johnny Depp is delish!! 5 stars
1/09/01 pipeman A delightful move. I absolutely loved it. Watch for a stunninly beautiful Leslie Caron. 5 stars
1/09/01 denise a sweet movie, rich with romance, strength and discovery 4 stars
1/08/01 Robert Nice relaxing 2 hours at a theater. Make sure you bring some chocolate to munch on. 4 stars
1/08/01 Thor-Leo Nice antidote to all the other overambitious, overrated movies now out 4 stars
12/30/00 tnt cute movie.......good performances...not the depth I had expected 3 stars
12/29/00 Jenny-My-Fur mm mm, break me off a piece of johnny, excellant movie, very fun and touching! 4 stars
12/28/00 Cindy W I was completely mesmerized by this movie, although it was a little too long. 5 stars
12/20/00 Heather Delicious fable of a movie, Like Water for Chocolate meets Antonias Line 5 stars
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  19-Jan-2001 (PG-13)


  14-Feb-2001 (M)

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