302. Chocolat

Movie: Chocolat

Release Date: December 15, 2000

Director: Lasse Hallström

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Carrie-Anne Moss, John Wood, Leslie Caron.

Tag Lines: “A comic fable from the director of ‘The Cider House Rules.'”

“One Taste Is All It Takes.”

“One taste is not enough.”

“What do you see?”

“…and the world is still indulging!”

Relevance: The year 2000 strikes again! ‘Chocolat’ is the fifth entry already from that year to make my list and what a sweet entry it is. Pun intended. (See 342. Traffic, see 330. Gladiator, see 321. Erin Brockovich and see 302. Almost Famous for the other films from that year.)

I don’t remember exactly when I saw ‘Chocolat,’ but it was definitely in the theaters before March 25, 2001, the night of the 73rd Academy Awards, of which it was nominated for five awards including Best Picture. I hate to say it again, but it is such a sweet movie. This dramatic fable about a woman and her daughter opening up a chocolaterie in a repressed French village is the perfect confectionery (see what I did there) of humor, charm, romance and mystcicism.

I was immediately taken by its acting. especially Juliette Binoche and Judi Dench as well as its beautiful setting. I’m a total sucker for anything French. I am also a sucker for a story about outcasts overcoming prejudice, ridicule and hatred. That is one of the many themes explored in the movie that struck a chord when I first saw it. And the fact that the “outcasts” in the movie were pitted against the church and its conservative members was just an added bonus for this ex-catholic atheist. The church as the villain, count me in! Although I will say the priest, humorously portrayed by Hugh O’Conor, is one of my favorite characters.

‘Chocolat’ is a movie that I both own and have watched numerous times since its release. It has always been a feel good movie for me, one that I could put on at any time and enjoy.

Today’s Thoughts: “Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in Tranquilité – Tranquility.”

This was such a relaxing movie for me to watch today, wrapped up in my blanket drinking coffee with my chocolate creamer. C’était parfait! ‘Chocolat’ was just as enjoyable and entertaining today as it was back in 2001 when I first saw it.

I love how this movie is presented as a fairy tale for adults without becoming too saccharine. With its storyteller, whimsical premise, the belief that good overcomes evil and the genuinely happily-ever-after ending, it surprisingly manages to remain believable and human. On paper, it sounds like a movie that would make me roll my eyes a lot, but thanks to its direction and presentation, I don’t.

Juliette Binoche is superb and absolutely gorgeous as Vianne, a loving, friendly and tenacious expert chocolatier. Judi Dench is feisty and ornery as ever and represents the heart of the film, at least for this viewer. Their on screen time together is remarkable. Johnny Depp is also very charming in this limited but important role. And he is always pretty to look at.

‘Chocoat’ is based on the novel of the same name by Joanne Harris which I have not read, but always wanted to. Thanks to today, it has now been added to the top of my “must read” list.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Juliette Binoche (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting ROle, Judi Dench (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based in Material Previously Produced or Published, Robert Nelson Jacobs (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Rachel Portman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Juliette Binoche (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Rachel Portman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Juliette Binoche (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Lena Olin (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Robert Nelson Jacobs (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Roger Pratt (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, David Gropman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Renee Ehrlich Kalfus, BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Naomi Donne (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Juliette Binoche (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Robert Nelson Jacobs (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Hulu, HBO Now, DVD Availability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s