Most romantic film #46: Chocolat (2000)

Being in Paris it is only right I include some French or French-inspired films. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, this is the movie of the novel by Joanne Harris, which I recommend you read.

No, not that.

Oops, no, not that either.

Yes.

The film stars Juliette Binoche as Vianne, a young mother, who is also a master chocolatier. She and her daughter Anouk drift from place to place, opening chocolate shops and working their magic until the wind comes, sending them someplace new. Vianne did the same with her mother.

At the start of the story, Vianne and Anouk come to a small French village, probably sometime during the 1950s although no date is specified. The village, Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, is a repressed and rule-following community. The mayor, played by Alfred Molina, keeps his citizens in check. He focuses everyone on abstinance and the denial of pleasure and allows no dallying with frivolous things like chocolate. His beautiful secretary, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, is in love with him, but he ignores her.

Vianne’s shop and sweets, however, quickly become a matter of concern because they are simply delicious and seductive, as is Vianne’s open friendliness. One of the first to visit is Armande (Dame Judi Dench), an elderly woman. Another is Josephine (Lena Olin), a woman who appears crazy but is simply a victim of her husband’s physical and verbal abuse.

These misfits and outcasts are joined by Roux (Johnny Depp), the leader of a group of gypsies, who comes to Vianne’s shop in search of work.

Vianne’s generosity and skill with chocolate brings everyone together, frees Josephine from her husband, and makes the mayor crazy. Things escalate, and the wind that pushes Vianne from place to place returns.

With four of the most beautiful and talented actresses and Johnny Depp in its cast and Hallestrom directing, how can this film not be great fun?

It is. The sets, the costumes, the music and the acting are a treat. Sensual, warm, and engaging. I suggest pairing the film with a cup of chocolat chaud or a selection of bites from white to milk to dark filled with fondant or caramel, some heavy cream, and your sweetie. For a complete night of confectionary delight, couple it with Like Water for Chocolate (1992).

Note: I find it unfair the way Binoche can dress like a matronly mother and still be one of the most beautiful women on the planet.

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