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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 Rob Gonsalves

"This was actually nominated for anything other than a Razzie?"
1 stars

As soon as I saw the mother and daughter trudging into the quaint French village wearing matching red cloaks, I knew "Chocolat" was going to be one of those movies.

Whimsical, uplifting, politically correct, resolutely unchallenging, predictable right down to the floor, Chocolat is the sort of warmed-over, food-oriented "magic realism" many otherwise sensible people seem to fall for. It takes the radical stance that people should indulge their pleasures, unless they're really mean, in which case they should eat some chocolate and learn to be nice.

The matching mother and daughter are Vienne (Juliette Binoche) and Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), who seem to be ushered into town by a strong wind that apparently tells them when it's time to move on. (I felt that wind about fifteen minutes into the movie, but managed to resist it.) Many of the locals distrust Vienne and Anouk on sight, perhaps because, in this allegedly French village, Binoche and Thivisol are almost the only people onscreen who are actually French -- the cast of colorful French locals includes four Brits, two Swedes, and a Canadian (from British Columbia, mind you). I mean, sheesh, the allegedly American town in Dancer in the Dark where poor David Morse seemed to be the only American around was more credible than this crew, who in any event don't act any more French than I do.

Vienne and her cutie-pie daughter (who, very unfortunately, has an imaginary kangaroo friend) settle in and open up a chocolaterie. The village mayor, Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), reacts as if they had opened a whorehouse. This heavily religious mayor, who frowns on culinary indulgence during Lent, has nothing else to do with his day but go around smearing Vienne's name. She makes chocolates! And encourages people to eat them! Good Lord, protect us from this concubine of Satan! (Protect us also from writers -- Robert Nelson Davis, adapting Joanne Harris' book -- who simplistically equate faith with prudish meanness.)

Of course, Vienne helps a lot of people. She helps her cranky landlady (Judi Dench) to reconcile with her grandson (Aurelien Parent-Koenig), who has an overprotective mother (Carrie-Anne Moss, light-years away from The Matrix). She helps a frazzled, abused woman (Lena Olin) who has the misfortune to be married to the abusive Peter Stormare. The movie uses both Stormare and Olin stupidly; Olin deserves luscious, outsize roles -- it's too depressing to watch her be gentled into this sort of Spitfire Grill character (come to think of it, this entire movie is a fancy-pants version of Spitfire Grill) -- and Stormare has been cast as a heavy so often that a change of pace like his compassionate Dancer in the Dark role is a relief.

Johnny Depp turns up midway through the film, as some sort of Irish pirate; he effortlessly makes his scenes more interesting, because you feel that he's just dropping by -- the mediocrity of his surroundings doesn't stain his clothes much. He, too, plays an outcast, and he comes along at just the right time to catch Vienne's eye and inflame tensions in the village even more. The mayor keeps grinding his teeth about the moral turpitude of Vienne and her new playmate, and everyone unaccountably listens to him; why they should do so, when there's no apparent police force in town to back him up, is beyond me and probably the screenwriter too.

Everything leads to a near-tragedy as well as a scene where a character dies peacefully in her sleep (no one seems terribly affected by this, not even her relatives) -- of diabetes, yet, which makes the film's chocolate-as-transcendence metaphor look sort of goofy. And if you've seen more than one movie, you know what has to happen with the mayor -- he finally tastes the chocolate, which magically cleanses his soul and brightens his attitude, as if he were some Rankin-Bass villain who learns to believe in Frosty the Snowman. There follows an enormous celebration, with the village streets swarming with revellers and fire-breathing, juggling circus acts -- not bad for a town that had seemed to have a population of about fifteen before.

All of this smug whimsy gets to be too much, I think, for Anouk's imaginary kangaroo friend, which we see hopping away at the end -- perhaps in search of another girl who needs comfort in another threadbare little fable.

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originally posted: 12/29/06 02:06:30
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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 t'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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