Cast Members: In the movie, Chocolat, we have the beautiful, lovely and very talented Juliette Binoche who plays Vianne. Vianne is a traveler along with her daughter who comes into town and changes the town for the better despite her “unorthodox” ways. I think she was the perfect person to play this part as she exudes grace and love just by smiling and the way she looks and treats people. Johnny Depp plays the free spirited “River Rat” Roux. I liked Johnny in this film because he wasn’t the main character as the poster of the movie depicts him to be, but more of a minor part that somehow becomes the major reason why Vianne makes her final decision at the end. Lena Olin (who also happens to be the wife of the director of movie) plays Josephine. Josephine is a battered wife of a café owner who morphs into a beautiful and strong woman by the end of the movie. Judi Dench makes quite a presence playing a grandmother named, Armande, with a lot of issues going on not only physically, but emotionally. Remember her name because you’ll see it later towards the end of the movie in a poignant scene. There is something so regal and stunning about her acting. She did a fantastic job! Alfred Molina plays Comte De Reynaud, a very controlling and legalistic man who thinks everyone should abide certain rules and act a certain way. He also had a lot of issues going on and they were not mentioned in the movie, however; they were explained in the book. Carrie-Ann Moss plays Caroline, a cold hearted and probably the most boring mother in the world. I felt sorry for her son who appeared to be deprived of anything fun in this world, such as eating a piece of chocolate!
Basic movie facts: The movie was filmed mostly in France, of course. The town is a real tiny medieval village composed of only 350 people. In the film, the town people even get to play movie extras. Can you imagine the excitement or horror these people felt having a huge movie crew the size of their town swarmed in? Other scenes were filmed in England for close up shots of the inside of the chocolate store. Juliette took a two day course learning how to make chocolate and many of the chocolates in the film were made by professional French chocolatiers. The director, Lasser Hallstrom, also directed “The Cider House Rules” and is known to be a story teller with religious and controversial issues imbedded in his movies.
Pros: I loved the moral of the movie and how one person can make a difference in society if not, one person at a time. This movie also engages the viewer to think about tradition and untraditional ways to live life and not be afraid to seek it out. The costumes were amazing and the overall look and feel of the colors made it appealing to my eyes. I understood why they used boring grey and blue hues in the opening; it was to show a redundant way of living and to make you understand this was a very traditional community. When Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, arrive in town, they are both wearing bright red capes as if symbolizing the contrast of life they bring to the villagers. This movie is nearly flawless in my opinion, so my pro comments could go on and on in this category.
Cons: I noticed that the audio did not match up with the actors and their lips the entire movie. I tried to ignore this, but I couldn’t. It became somewhat distracting once I paid too much attention to it, so I had to stop and just enjoy the movie. Other than that, I couldn’t really find anything else wrong with this film.
Music score: For this film, Lasser had Rachel Portman compose the music score. I always listen to the soundtrack of the movie as I review the movie to remember the different scenes and how the music relates to it. Rachel said that she used a longing, wispy sound for when Vianne felt called to keep moving on to the next town. I enjoyed very much the French music from the 1950’s. I’d like to add that Rachel also did the music score for “The Cider House Rules” as well.
Favorite quote: This stuck out on my mind for some reason, but I like it anyways. It was something like chocolate “melts in your tongue and tortures you with pleasure”. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I eat a truffle.
Audience reaction: None. I watched this at home.
Relatability: Vianne is a character I can easily relate to. The lifestyle of always having to move from place to place and making friends, helping and loving those around you in that community, only to say goodbye to them later on is very hard. However, there is always that feeling of seeing what else is out there and exploring. There is a scene where Vianne is being “called” to move once again and she is battling between her mind and her heart. You can see it in her eyes and her body language of how strong the feeling is to just make a final decision. I also enjoyed Vianne’s attraction to Roux as he also could relate to her adventurous spirit and they both knew how it felt to feel like outcasts. He understood her. I liked how Vianne didn’t care what others thought about her, even if she was “breaking rules” in a society that lived in a box, so to speak. She followed her heart in the end.
Photo credit: mfg.org