When Anouk implores her mother to tell the story of her grandparents once more, a bittersweet tale of Vianne's childhood is revealed. As the days pass, we are introduced to the complex simplicities of life in Lanquenet. The characters come to life before our eyes as they struggle to choose between long repressed passions and imposed sanctions. Armande (JUDI DENCH), Vianne's landlord longs to reconnect with her grandson, a lad who conceals his dark side from the mother who stands between them. Josephine (LENA OLIN) finds a long lost peace in the kitchen of the shop, safely sheltered from the brutal hand of her husband.
When a riverboat arrives with a band of gypsies, it is Roux (JOHNNY DEPP) who awakens Vianne's most secret desire.
Director, Lasse Hallström, found Joanne Harris' novel, Chocolat, rich in multi-layered tones. "I was interested in the broad range of elements in the story: the dramatic, comedic, at times farcical, the poetic, a comic fable that doesn't simplify its character portraits but is rooted in reality.
Juliette Binoche was Hallström's first choice for Vianne. "Vianne is a wanderer, and she expects to always keep moving," Juliette explains, "but I don't think she necessarily wants this life. It is a pattern inside her and she can't yet pull herself away from it. she has an enormous struggle inside of her that many people face: between the way her life was as a child and the way she wants to live now. Its something we all struggle with -- to break from our parents and our past and live our own lives."
Life hasn't changed much in the last century in the little French village of Lansquenet. One wintry day a Northerly blows through town and along with it comes Vianne Rocher (JULIETTE BINOCHE) and her daughter, Anouk.
Mysteriously intriguing to the townspeople, Vianne sees them stealing glimpses as she renovates an old shop in one of the town squares. Behind the covered windows Vianne melts her cocoa into tiny whimsical shapes and fills the glass display cases with chocolats bewitched by magical powers.
When she opens her little shop, she quickly learns the town nobleman, Comte de Reynaud (ALFRED MOLINA) has turned the townspeople against her. How dare she, he insists, open a chocolaterie during Lent! Vianne's intuitive flair for guessing her customers favorite candy and the powers of the chocolat liberate a few of the citizens to her side but the mayor's strong hold on the town prevails ... for a bit of time anyway.
Johnny Depp was drawn to the iconoclastic love story and the opportunity to work once more with Hallström (they previously collaborated on "Whats Eating Gilbert Grape?") Depp created Roux as a rough and tumble journeyer. "He's the kind of guy who lands his boat in a village and busks for awhile, then moves on. I thought Roux would be really into old blues, and this is the first time I've actually played guitar on film." Depp was also inspired by his leading lady, Juliette. "She's so beautiful and deep, she makes you fall instantly in love with her. She's an intensely committed actress and if art is possible in cinema, I think she comes as close as anyone can."
Judi Dench plays Armande as a woman with a crusty sense of independence and a grand sense of humor. Says Dench, "I think Armande is a bit of a witch who sees in Vianne a reflection of herself. Like everybody else in the story, Armande is caught up by Vianne's ability to create change. What I loved about the film is that it's about the lifting of spirits - not to mention that I got to eat and drink enormous amounts of chocolate!"
I can certainly agree, this has been the most delightful film I've had the opportunity to review! A plate of brownies and several cups of hot chocolate have lent a great deal of insight to the task. Can one ever tire of such exquisite divinity? Chocolat is a sweet tale of erotic awakening set in the past to hint at present day possibilities. Juliette Binoche is at her most endearing and Johnny Depp will steal your heart away. And what can we say .. we LOVE Chocolat.
Chocolat deserves to be seen on the big screen with someone you love, don't wait for Valentine's Day to bring romance out of the wrapper. Remember flowers and ...
review by CINETROPIC
THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
Chocolat - IMDB Listing