A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Chocolat

February 14, 2011

Chocolat

When we searched our collection for romances for Valentine’s Day we found none. But we did have a few movies about chocolate, which is kind of the point of the holiday, right? We pondered watching he two Willy Wonka movies we own, but we’re trying to watch more movies from our collection that we haven’t seen, so instead it’s this fun movie about unleashing passion through the magic of confection.

This movie is part fairy story, part folk tale, part morality play – except that perhaps it’s more accurate to describe it as an “immorality play.” It follows the lives of a number of townspeople in a quaint, quiet French village. The folk live a simple, pious life, certain that all is right with their world until one day a mysterious woman blows into town like Mary Poppins on the wind. Vianne, like the wind, is a force of nature. She sweeps into town and proceeds to disrupt everybody’s lives through the liberal application of an uncanny intuitive understanding of every person’s deeply hidden problems – and chocolate. She reunites an ornery grandmother with her disturbed grandson. She awakens the slumbering passion of a somnambulent married couple. She helps a beaten wife discover that she doesn’t need her abusive husband.

I would not say that this is an original movie. It doesn’t hold any surprises. It’s a familiar story and one we’ve seen before in this project. There’s a genre of movies about people living their lives in a small town until they are awakened by a chaotic stranger. We saw it in Keeping Mum. We saw just a couple weeks ago it in To Wong Foo (which bears a striking number of similarities to this movie. Just replace the drag with chocolate.) It is, however a pleasant and delightful movie.

It is obvious at several points that this is adapted from a book. There’s the slightly heavy-handed narration, for example, which seems like somewhat of an unnecessary crutch. I haven’t read the source material, but even so there’s a sort of bookish feel to things here. Perhaps it’s in the clearly episodic story telling, which feels like it comes from the ebb and flow of chapters and doesn’t perfectly suit the storytelling of film as a medium. I’m not sure.

That doesn’t make the movie any less charming though. How can you possibly dislike a movie with Johnny Depp, Judi Dench and Juliette Binoche all at the peak of their games? I love Carrie-Anne Moss as a conflicted mother and daughter who has only the best intentions. Most of all, however, I loved Alfred Molina as the protective mayor who does everything in his power to keep things the way he believes they ought to be. He has a spectacular acting scene near the end of the movie that blew me away. Not to mention Helene Cardona’s Oscar-bait performance.

One word of warning: be sure you eat BEFORE watching this movie. We had dinner and were pretty sated and even so had to make the richest, thickest hot chocolate we could immediately after watching the movie. The sweets featured on the screen here often out-shine the stars. The chocolates, the hot chocolate, the cake. My mouth starts watering again just thinking about it.

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February 14, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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