Quick Summary: Chocolat is about a small but strongly Catholic French town that is met with the opening of a controversial ‘chocolaterie’. Anyone that tastes one of these mysterious Mayan chocolates finds themselves caught in a frenzy of sinful passion. The owner of this chocolaterie is Viviane, (Juliette Binoche) a single mom that moves from town to town with ancient Mayan chocolate recipes and a very progressive world view. While she and her daughter try hard to finally settle down, the townspeople, namely the Church, try their hardest to make the sinful chocolate and her satanic influence go away. This is a story of passion, acceptance, and just letting go and being yourself. And along the way we come across many quirky and lovable characters typical of this kind of ‘small-town moral comedy’.
Feeling: like I made some new friends.
The plot of this movie is not too complex and almost entirely predictable, the themes and issues addressed plainly stated, and the story is nothing I have never seen before. Fortunately, the writing does allow for a strong connection from the viewer with every character. And by the halfway point of the movie one feels like they really are part of this little town. Of course these characters include every archetypal member of a small French town: the sassy old lady, the strict mayor, the cute little boy, the friendly baker, the handsome outsider, etc. Again, predictable but nonetheless lovable. One of my favorite characters who gets far too little screen time was a gypsy girl who is really funny looking and adorable. The movie is probably worthwhile just for her. This is her.
So as I was saying, this movie does a really good job of conveying a feeling of closeness with the characters and each of their stories which results in a very enjoyable time.
True Facts: nothing out of the ordinary.
Back to speaking as a critic. I don’t feel like this movie brought anything new to the table. It was probably attempting to make some kind of point about conservative religious values that reppress individual pleasure, however such themes really take the backseat as one starts to simply enjoy the town. But wait! Maybe that is the whole point! Maybe the writers want us to forget about any kind of ethical meaning to life and just sit back and enjoy the company of the people we live with, the sweeter things in life. Chocolate.