Chocolat (2000 film)
|Directed by||Lasse Hallström|
|Screenplay by||Robert Nelson Jacobs|
by Joanne Harris
|Edited by||Andrew Mondshein|
|Music by||Rachel Portman|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films (through Buena Vista International outside the US)|
|Box office||$152.7 million|
Chocolat (French pronunciation: [ʃokola]) is a 2000 comedy-drama film, based on the 1999 novel Chocolat by the English author, Joanne Harris, directed by Lasse Hallström. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the beginning of Lent with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. She opens a small chocolaterie. Soon, she and her chocolate influence the lives of the townspeople of this repressed French community in different and interesting ways.
The film began a limited release in the United States on December 22, 2000, and went on general release on January 19, 2001. Critics gave the drama positive reviews, praising its acting performances, its screenplay and Rachel Portman's score. The film garnered a number of accolades, including many for its screenplay, direction, acting, and music. It received five nominations at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Binoche won the European Film Award for Best Actress for her performance, while Dench was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2001.
Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), an expert chocolatière and her six-year-old daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), drift across Europe following the north wind, like her mother before her. In 1959, they arrive in a quiet, traditional French village, overseen by village mayor the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) at the start of the 40 days of Lent. Vianne opens a chocolate shop, much to Reynaud's chagrin.
Vianne wears more colourful clothing than the village women, is atheist, and is a single mother. Although not fitting in well with the townspeople she is nevertheless optimistic. With a friendly and alluring nature, she begins to make headway with some of the villagers. However, the austere Mayor Reynaud, whose pride will not admit his wife had left him, speaks out against Vianne for tempting the people during Lent.
Armande (Judi Dench), Vianne's elderly eccentric landlady, is one of Vianne's first allies. Her cold, pious daughter Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss) will not let her see her grandson Luc as she is a "bad influence". Caroline is a widow and overly protective of Luc. Vianne arranges for him and his grandmother to meet in the chocolaterie, where they bond. After finding out about their secret meetings, Caroline later reveals her mother is diabetic, but Armande continues to eat the chocolate regardless.
Vianne later develops a friendship with troubled Josephine (Lena Olin), who is being physically abused by her husband Serge (Peter Stormare), who runs the local café. Through their friendship, Josephine finds the courage to leave Serge after a rather violent beating, moving in with Vianne and Anouk. As she works at the chocolate shop and learns the craft, her confidence slowly increases. Simultaneously, under Reynaud's instruction, Serge attempts to make amends for his abusiveness, eventually asking Josephine to come back to him but she declines. Later that night, a drunken Serge breaks into the chocolaterie, attacking both women, but Josephine knocks him out.
As the rivalry between Vianne and Reynaud intensifies, a band of river Romani camp near the village. Whereas most of the town objects to their presence, Vianne embraces them, developing a mutual attraction to Roux (Johnny Depp). They hold a birthday party for Armande with villagers and Romani on Roux's boat. When Caroline sees Luc dancing with his grandmother, she relents and begins to accept that Armande's influence in her son's life may be good.
After the party, Luc takes Armande home. Josephine and Anouk fall asleep on a boat, while Roux and Vianne make love. Later that night, Serge sets fire to Josephine's boat as they sleep. They escape unharmed, but Vianne is shaken. Armande dies in her home with Luc discovering her unresponsive, devastating both him and his mother. After the fire, Roux packs up and leaves with his group, much to Vianne's sadness.
Reynaud initially believed the fire was divine intervention until Serge confesses to starting it, saying he thought it was what he wanted. Horrified that the fire was actually arson and fearing blame, Reynaud orders him to leave the village and to not come back.
With the return of the north wind, Vianne decides she cannot win against Reynaud's strict traditions, and decides to move on. Anouk, now attached to the town, refuses to go, and during a scuffle, the urn containing Vianne's mother's ashes breaks, scattering them over the floor. While recovering the ashes, Vianne sees the townspeople and the positive influence she's had on their lives, making chocolate for the festival she planned for Easter Sunday. Vianne decides to stay longer.
Despite shifting sentiment in the town, Reynaud remains staunch in his abstinence from pleasures such as chocolate. On the Saturday evening before Easter, seeing Caroline, whom he is attracted to, leaving the chocolaterie devastates him. Convinced chocolate will make people stray from their faith, he breaks into Vianne's shop that night, smashing the special chocolate creations for the Easter festival. After a morsel of chocolate falls on his lip, he eagerly devours much of the chocolate in the window display before collapsing in tears and eventually falling asleep. The next morning, Vianne calmly wakes him up and gives him a special drink to help him. Reynaud apologizes for his behavior. Mutual respect is established, and the town's young priest Pere Henri gives an inspiring sermon, emphasizing the importance of humanity over divinity.
The narrator reveals the Easter Sunday sermon and the festival are a success. Reynaud and Caroline start a relationship half a year later. Josephine takes over Serge's café, renaming it Café Armande. The north wind returns, but this time Vianne throws her mother's ashes out into the wind, symbolizing her life path finally diverging from her late mother's. The narrator, a grown-up Anouk, concludes the story: Roux returns in the summer to be with Vianne, who stays, having found a home for herself and her daughter in the village.
- Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher
- Victoire Thivisol as Anouk Rocher, Vianne's daughter (voiced by Sally Taylor-Isherwood because Victoire's French accent made her difficult to understand)
- Judi Dench as Armande Voizin, Caroline's mother
- Alfred Molina as Comte de Reynaud, the mayor
- Lena Olin as Josephine Muscat, Serge's abused wife
- Johnny Depp as Roux, a self-described "river-rat" and Vianne's lover
- Hugh O'Conor as Pere Henri, village priest
- Carrie-Anne Moss as Caroline Clairmont, Armande's daughter
- Aurélien Parent-Koenig as Luc Clairmont, Caroline's son
- Peter Stormare as Serge Muscat, café owner
- Hélène Cardona as Françoise "Fuffi" Drou, beauty shop proprietor
- Antonio Gil as Jean-Marc Drou
- Elisabeth Commelin as Yvette Marceau, woman who buys chocolates as an aphrodisiac
- Ron Cook as Alphonse Marceau, Yvette's husband
- Leslie Caron as Madame Audel, village widow whose husband died in World War I
- John Wood as Guillaume Blerot, who carries a long-time yearning for Madame Audel
- Michèle Gleizer as Madame Rivet, village woman who works for the Comte
- Dominique MacAvoy as Madame Pouget, village woman
- Arnaud Adam as George Rocher, Vianne's father
- Christianne Oliveira as Chitza Rocher, Vianne's mother
- Tatyana Yassukovich, the narrator
Filming took place between May and August 2000 in the medieval village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain in the region of Burgundy and on the Rue De L'ancienne Poste in Beynac-et-Cazenac in Dordogne. The river scenes were filmed at Fonthill Lake at Fonthill Bishop in Wiltshire and interior scenes at Shepperton Studios, England.
The soundtrack was nominated for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.
- "Minor Swing" (Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli) – 2:13
- "Main Titles" – 3:07
- "The Story of Grandmere" – 4:08
- "Vianne Sets Up Shop" – 1:57
- "Three Women" – 1:01
- "Vianne Confronts the Comte" – 1:21
- "Other Possibilities" – 1:34
- "Guillaume's Confession" – 1:29
- "Passage of Time" – 2:32
- "Boycott Immorality" – 4:38
- "Party Preparations" – 1:28
- "Chocolate Sauce" – 0:48
- "Fire" – 2:37
- "Vianne Gazes at the River" – 1:06
- "Mayan Bowl Breaks" – 2:14
- "Taste of Chocolate" – 3:08
- "Ashes to the Wind / Roux Returns" – 2:18
- "Caravan" (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol)– 3:43
The film received a mixture of reviews from critics with some critics dismissive of the film's tone. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 62% of 117 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.99/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Chocolat is a charmingly light-hearted fable with a lovely performance by Binoche". On Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film holds a 64/100 rating, based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Chicago Tribune critic Michael Wilmington called Chocolat "a delightful confection, a cream-filled (and slightly nutty) bon-bon of a [...] tantalizing, delectable and randy movie of melting eroticism and toothsome humor." He felt that the film "is a feast of fine actors – and every one of them is a joy to watch." Similarly, Peter Travers from Rolling Stone declared the project "a sinfully scrumptious bonbon [...] Chocolat may be slight, but don't discount Hallstrom's artful finesse [...] Except for some indigestible whimsy Chocolat is yummy." Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three out of four stars. He found the film was "charming and whimsical, and Binoche reigns as a serene and wise goddess." New York Post's Lou Lumenick called Chocolat "the soothing cinematic equivalent of a warm cup of decadently rich cocoa," led by "melt-in-your-mouth performances" from Binoche, Molina and Dench.
In his review for Variety, Lael Loewenstein found that "Hallstrom couldn't have asked for a better cast to embody those themes; likewise, his production team has done an exquisite job of giving life to Robert Nelson Jacobs’ taut script. Chocolat [...] is a richly textured comic fable that blends Old World wisdom with a winking, timely commentary on the assumed moral superiority of the political right." Mick LaSalle of the Los Angeles Times remarked that the film was "as delectable as its title, but for all its sensuality it is ultimately concerned with the spirit." He noted that Chocolat "is a work of artistry and craftsmanship at the highest level, sophisticated in its conception and execution, yet possessed of wide appeal." The New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell found the film "extraordinarily well cast" and wrote: "This crowd-pleaser is the feature-film version of milk chocolate: an art house movie for people who don't like art house movies."
Lisa Schwarzbaum, writing for Entertainment Weekly, graded the film with a 'B−' rating, summarizing it "as agreeably sweet as advertised, with a particularly yummy performance by Juliette Binoche," while Jay Carr from The Boston Globe found that the film "may not be deep, but it certainly is lip-smacking." Mike Clark of USA Today was more cutting in his review, saying that there are "never enough goodies to keep the two-hour running time from seeming like three." In a further negative review, Dennis Lim from The Village Voice criticized the film for its "condescending, self-congratulatory attack on provincial sanctimony." He called Chocolat an "airy, pseudo-folkloric gibberish at best."
Following the criticisms, Harvey Weinstein challenged the USA Today critic, Andy Seiler, to choose a venue where the film was showing to try to prove to him that audiences liked it even if not all critics did. After the screening in Washington D.C., Weinstein asked the audience for their feedback and no one said anything negative.
The film was nominated for many awards, including five Academy Awards, one of which was Best Picture. Among significant awards won for work on this picture were the Art Directors Guild award 2001 for Excellence in Production Design, the Bogey Award given by the German journal Blickpunkt: Film, based on audience numbers, the Audience Award 2001 of the European Film Awards, for Juliette Binoche, and the Screen Actors Guild award 2001, to Judi Dench for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. The film also attracted numerous BAFTA nominations, and Rachel Portman's score was nominated for a Grammy Award.
- "Chocolat (2000)". BBFC. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
- (2000) filming locations, Movieloci.com, accessed 10 July 2013
- "Chocolat: Music from the Miramax Motion Picture (2001 Film): Rachel Portman: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- "Chocolat (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- James, Alison (24 December 2001). "Homegrown pix gain in Europe". Variety. p. 7.
- Bing, Jonathan (June 11, 2001). "B.O. treacle-down theory: Motion by emotion". Variety. p. 6.
- "Chocolat (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
- "Chocolat" – via www.metacritic.com.
- "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
- Wilmington, Michael (December 22, 2000). "Chocolao: A Romance-Comedy-Fairytale That's Sinfully Sweet". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Travers, Peter (December 22, 2000). "Chocolat". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Ebert, Roger (December 22, 2000). "Chocolat". Chicago Sun-Times. RogertEbert.com. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Lumenick, Lou (December 15, 2000). "Sweet & Just Dessert". New York Post. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Loewenstein, Lael (December 7, 2000). "Chocolat". Variety. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- LaSalle, Mick (December 22, 2000). "'Chocolat' a Rare Treat That Nourishes the Soul". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Mitchell, Elvis (December 15, 2000). "FILM REVIEW; Candy Power Comes to Town". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa (December 15, 2000). "Chocolat (2000)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
- Chocolat at Metacritic
- Lim, Dennis (December 12, 2000). "The Old Slack Magic". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
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