Friday, May 6, 2016

Movie Review- Chocolat

My mom has always talked about how much she enjoys the movie Chocolat so finally we watched it together and then I realized it was basically a period drama film so I thought hey, I'll review it for the Period Drama Film challenge. Cause why not? ;)
Synopsis from IMDB: Vianne Rocher and her young daughter are drifters who are met with skepticism and resistance when they move to a conservative town in rural France and open a chocolate shop during Lent. As Vianne begins to work her magic and help those around her, the townspeople are soon won-over by her exuberance and her delicious chocolates - except for the mayor, who is determined to shut her down. When a group of river drifters visit the town, Vianne teaches the townspeople something about acceptance, and finds love for herself along the way.
This was a fun and sweet little film. It had it's issues but overall it was delightful.
First off it's about chocolate. Yum! And not just any chocolate. Super delicious decadent looking chocolate that I want to pull from the screen and eat! It's an awful movie to watch when there isn't any chocolate around to eat!


Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche)- Vianne is kind of a complicated character. With her daughter she moves from town to town. As the story develops you discover why she does this.... it is a tradition passed on from her mother to spread the love of chocolate with everyone. As the story goes on though she begins to realize how hard it is on her daughter to keep up with the constant moving and constantly having to make new friends. Vianne is also non-catholic.... non-christian altogether, which condemns her to all of the townspeople, especially the mayor.  Now I'm not a catholic so their arguments about lent that end up happening I really could care less who wins them. However, I'm more disappointed in Vianne's atheism that comes out, which develops some themes I wasn't too big a fan of.

Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina)- Another complicated character. Comte de Reynaud is the mayor of the town and very much so rules it with an iron fist, though he does care deeply for it. At the beginning of the story you hear him tell people that this wife is in Rome and has decided to extend her stay there but as the story goes on you realize that while she is in Rome she isn't coming back. This fuels a lot of his anger. 

Josephine Muscat (Lena Olin)- At the beginning Josephine comes off as rather odd. You discover she's somewhat of a kleptomaniac and that her husband is emotionally and pushily abusive to her. With Vianne's support, Josephine leaves her husband and starts a new life. I really loved seeing Josephine's character grow through the film. She becomes a whole new person. 

Roux (Johnny Depp)- Roux is a water gypsy who camps out by the town about halfway through the film. Like Vianne he is considered an outcast by the town. A relationship develops between the two. It was weird to see Johnny Depp in this film not looking weird. I've only ever seen him as Captain Jack in Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Armande Voizin (Judi Dench)- Armande rents the shop to Vianne and soon frequents it as well and you begin to learn about her life. She's estranged from her daughter and therefore her grandson. During the film though Vianne brings her grandson and then eventually her daughter into reconciliation with Armande. 


The music was a lot of fun in this film. Especially the gypsy tunes played.


I adored the costumes in this film! Vianne's wardrobe was classic and beautiful. 

Objectionable Content

Vianne's daughter was born out of wedlock and we do not know who the father was. Vianne wear some lower cut clothes. There's two inappropriate scenes, both of which we dimmed the screen for so I'm not sure quite how much they showed. I don't think they showed too much though but still unnecessary.

Overall I enjoyed this film a lot but it definitely had some issues with immorality. The conclusion was somehow not quite satisfying because in the end everyone seemed to abandon their catholic faith. As I said I'm not catholic so some of that was a little ridiculous to me as I don't believe in lent but still the basic morality of Christianity was there and it seemed like it lost. I think maybe more the point of it was that the townspeople, and especially the mayor, needed to loosen up with their legalism. I think they loosened up a little too much though. 
Have you seen Chocolat? What did you think of it? 

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  1. Never seen the movie and probably won't. Your review is helpful for that. :)

    I did want to take a little bit of exception to your comments on Lent though. Lutherans as well as Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox follow Lent and I wanted to share an article by one of my fellow pastors that will hopefully explain somewhat why we have Lent.

    1. And some more links, offered not in trying to be argumentative, but to hopefully show why Lutherans keep Lent:

    2. Thank you. I knew Lutherans celebrated Lent but it slipped my mind.

  2. Thanks for reviewing this movie. Like George said, I don't think this is one I want to see.

    From your review it sounds like another typical "Catholic church suppresses happiness with stupid rules" movie. Gee, I wish people could see that the rules in place to HELP you be happy! Like G.K. Chesterton said, a river without banks is going to flow all over the place, completely lost. It needs those banks to restrict it so it can truly become a successful river.

  3. Ahhhh, one of my favorite movies! It should only be watched when you have some good chocolate on hand, though. It's probably my favorite Johnny Depp role, even over Captain Jack. It does tip a little too far toward "let's accept everybody and whatever they want to do," but mostly I feel like it's trying to say that legalistic rules that are followed just for the sake of following them don't do anybody any good, spiritually or otherwise. It's where your heart lies that is important -- like Armande's daughter learned, that just because she didn't agree with her mother's ideas didn't mean she should stop showing love to her.

    I like to think that by the end, the townspeople have learned that enjoying food and friendship is God-pleasing too, and Vianne has learned that not all Christians are moralistic prudes.

    I'm also a Lutheran who observes Lent as a time of focusing on Jesus' sacrifice for us, but for me it's about reflection and self-examination, repentance, and prayer, not about not eating certain foods or doing certain things simply because "I'm not supposed to during Lent."

    Oh, and the soundtrack is awesome! Johnny Depp plays guitar for real, and he recorded two of the songs for the movie that you see him playing.

    The sensual scene between Vianne and Roux is pretty tame -- they kiss a bunch, then lie down in the bottom of his boat, and then it cuts to them sitting back up because they hear shouts outside. The flashback scene between her grandparents is fairly racy, though, and best skipped.

    1. That's a good point--the important thing to remember when abstaining from something is WHY. Everytime you begin it crave whatever you are sacrificing, you should remember how much Christ sacrificed, not how self-righteous you are. That's what fasting is supposed to be, but unfortunately it sometimes devolves into something less than what it should be.

      I'm not sure if this is what you were implying, but I would just like to point out the Catholic Church is not opposed to "enjoying food and friendship" at all. In fact, because of how glorious that is, it makes it even more of a sacrifice to moderately give it up for limited times (like Lent). There is an old saying that goes: "Wherever the Catholic sun does shine, there is food and cheer, and good red wine."

      I didn't know Johnny Depp played the guitar--that's interesting :D

    2. In the movie, the Gospel is entirely absent, so it's all about following rules "because you're supposed to." Rather than extending the love of God to other people, they shun anyone who doesn't already believe and behave the way they do.

      I definitely wasn't implying that actual Catholics behave this way -- this is just about the characters in the movie.

    3. Of course--I have never actually seen the movie. Based off this review it seems like it paints Catholics in a poor light and I was just trying to explain why the people in this film do not seem like they are representative of actual Catholic teaching.

    4. I don't recommend the book at all, because it paints Catholics -- and all Christians -- very badly. However, in the movie, it's the town's mayor who is sort of forcing everyone to boycott this stranger and her chocolaterie, and browbeating the new young priest into doing the same. It ends up being a bit of a morality play about how one man's anger and pietism can cause a lot of damage to a lot of people, and how extreme denial can lead to overindulgence, when really some Biblical "moderation in all things" would have done everyone a lot of good.

    5. Wow guys! Lot's of food for thought here. Thank you. I forgot Lutherans celebrated Lent as well.

    6. I think not all Lutherans celebrate Lent, but many of us do.

  4. BTW, Lois, I nominated you for a Liebster Award here. Play if you want to :-)

  5. Probably shouldn't have watched this one during Lent while trying to stay off the chocolate... although I loved the look and the clothes! Don't think I've ever seen a film that doesn't paint Catholics as nutters (except 'While you were Sleeping'!) so I've given up getting offended by that one :P

    1. Movies always do a terrible job portraying Christianity... fact of life. :(

  6. I have read Chocolat before seeing the movie and there is one word of advice: If you disliked the movie for the portrayal of Catholics, never read the book. I thought that was even worse. I didn't like it at all (but I don't think that had a lot to do with me being Catholic myself) and almost didn't watch the movie. I'm glad I did. It's the one story where I think the movie was better. In the book, the priest is the evil guy, they shifted a lot on the mayor in the movie.

    But, as someone else said before, I'm used to seeing Catholics as the evil ones all the time, if we're not crazy then we're pedophiles etc. I grew up in a Catholic village and there are always those who watch what others are doing so they can then say they are not good Christians. Well, guess what, if I need to watch what others are doing in order to feel better, I am not a good Christian. So, yes, I am used to this kind of portrayal of my religion.

    Anyway, I love the music in the movie. And, of course, Johnny Depp is perfec in there. Also my favourite movie with him.

    Marianne from
    Let's Read

  7. Just watched this in a college movie class on food and it certainly was about food. I am sorry people don't want to watch this because it offends Catholics. I never even thought about that. It is a shame people would close themselves off from books and movies because of a religion. I know things go on in all churches that are questionable but that doesn't mean people should quit going to church because of the sinners attending.


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