7.32 h 1 min2001X-RayPG-13
When a single mother and her six-year-old daughter move to rural France and open a chocolate shop - with Sunday hours - across the street from the local church, they are met with some skepticism. But as soon as they coax the townspeople into enjoying their delicious products, they are warmly welcomed.
Lasse Hallström
Juliette BinocheJohnny DeppJudi Dench
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Alfred Molina
Leslie HolleranKit Golden
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Nudityviolencealcohol usesmokingfoul languagesexual content
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4.8 out of 5 stars

7420 global ratings

  1. 87% of reviews have 5 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

H. BalaReviewed in the United States on July 7, 2009
5.0 out of 5 stars
"...a sly wind blew in from the North..."
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"The Maya believed cacao held the power to unlock hidden yearnings... and reveal destinies." Okay. I don't have much use for chocolate, really, except for sippin' the occasional hot cuppa, and the cynical curmudgeon in me grumbles at the tradition of purchasing chocolate for your sweetheart (and don't even get the curmudgeon started on flowers). So I don't know that I buy into chocolate as a sort of universal panacea. But I did like CHOCOLAT, a film about sensuous magical realism and a shifting of status quo and the acceptance of things strange and new, and it's about romance and, of course, chocolat. The cynical curmudgeon in me just passed out.

Journey back to 1959 and eyeball that tiny, quaint French village down there. Observe the air of "tranquilité," which for the purposes of this film is defined as staidness and, perhaps - no, definitely - repression. And also note the residents attending church, and that tamped down sense of vague discontent even as they worship. Then a heavy gust blows, and blows open the church door and also blows into town two red-cloaked figures which will change various lives before it's all over. I quote: "A sly wind blew in from the North."

The newcomers are Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk, and the tiny village is soon richer by the count of one humble chocolaterie, or a chocolate shop. As the movie audience promptly learns, the village's strings are pulled by the Comte de Reynaud, a pious gent who happens to be Mayor and whose wife may or may not be away on an extended holiday. As we also eventually learn, the Comte isn't truly a villainous soul, only that he believes he knows what is best for the community, this including observing Lent stringently and keeping at bay all things untoward and controversial. This last part, it would quickly dawn on the Mayor, would have to include tearing down Vianne Rocher, her business and her reputation. The Mayor would prefer his village to remain a sleepy one.

Vianne enjoys walking around in her red shoes and being la vonne vivante and demonstrating that joie de vivre, and that about drains my French lexicon. It's made obvious early on that the movie's central conflict will revolve around Vianne's free-spirited nature and the Comte's attempts to stamp down that liveliness and sense of freedom. She's friendly and that's fine, but, in her exuberance, Vianne also thumbs her nose at proprieties and gently mocks the Mayor ("Can I interest you in some nipples of Venus?" she offers him.). She ignores the village's religious structure (and, by that, I mean she refuses to go to church), opening her shop during Lent (a time of abstinence and sincere penitence) and orchestrating a pagan chocolate spring festival at the same time as Easter Sunday. So, no, the Mayor doesn't enjoy having his moral superiority tweaked. We see the Mayor admonishing Vianne: "You don't misbehave here. It's just not done, did you know that?" Whispers abound about whether she's a radical or even an atheist.

Meanwhile, Vianne does start making a few friends here and there, and her chocolate fineries are things of wonder. Vianne claims to know what sort of chocolate best suits her clientele, and this is the part where that opening sentence comes in. "The Maya believed cacao held the power to unlock hidden yearnings... and reveal destinies." Soon Vianne is doling out delectables and remedies, although, as in the best of stories, these remedies work their mojo in an indirect way. Throughout all this, the mayor is busting her chops. And it all gets a lot worse when the river throws up several boatloads of families and drifters. Except, for the movie audience, this is where things really kick up a notch, because at this stage Vianne goes from serving mostly as a plot vessel to someone infinitely more human and more riveting.

On board one of those boats is Roux, disarmingly, roguishly played by Johnny Depp, and he is, of course, Vianne's love interest. And, to play up the romantic tension, Vianne has a bit of trouble guessing which chocolate is right for Roux. Anyway, if one thought the Comte De Reynaud was unhappy before, imagine the state of apoplexy he achieves when river rats suddenly begin to sully his bailiwick. He can't say it aloud, but he's probably thinking: "Sacré merde!"

As the movie progresses, we learn about Vianne's parents and how her vagabond mother set her about her wandering ways, traveling village to village at the whims of the North wind, dispensing cacao remedies. We learn the cracks in Vianne's irrepressible nature and we learn that her daughter Anouk is unsettled enough with the lack of stability that she's invented an imaginary kangaroo friend as a form of security blanket. So it's not a fairy tale life after all, following the North wind.

CHOCOLAT is a wonderful film, and makes me want to read Joanne Harris's novel, although, from what I understand, the role of the Big Bad was altered from being that of a priest in the book to that of the mayor in the film adaptation. Nevertheless, Alfred Molina is superlative, lending a depth and complexity and a melancholy to his character (see how forlornly he gazes at his wife's picture), elevating the Comte de Reynaud to beyond mere token villain status.

It's the feel of the thing which I appreciate the most, I think. CHOCOLAT feels like a charming fairy tale peopled with real life characters. The tone is right away established with the narrator's voice over (supposedly the voice of a grown up Anouk) and the two wind-blown figures in red. The cinematography is exquisite, the exteriors shot in France (the little village is post card picturesque!), the interiors apparently filmed mostly in England's west country and just outside London. And the musical score perfectly supports whatever mood is invoked onscreen. So, okay, I don't know that the dialogue is all that brilliant, even though I did like it. What I do know is that the words in the script are enlivened by a cast of marvelous actors. The battered housewife, the embittered landlady estranged from her family, the repressed lovely assistant of the Comte, the widow who may or may not be grieving over her four-decades-gone husband... these are characters who develop as they fall under Vianne's cheerful ministrations and are themselves empowered. As portrayed by Lena Olin, a sublime Judi Dench, Carrie-Anne Moss, and a still vibrant Leslie Caron, they each add memorable color to CHOCOLAT. I should mention young and talented Victoire Thivisol, as well. She plays Anouk, and she impresses me enough that I aim to look up PONETTE, in which at only four years old she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival! How awesome is that?

But it all falls on Juliette Binoche, ultimately, and her delightful performance transports the movie to a wonderful viewing experience. Juliette is older now, and yet she's just as exquisite in her maturity. She seems more solid, somehow, than when she was taking on those sex goddess parts in earlier films. As Vianne, I've never liked her more. And she's still beautiful, her inner light keeps on shining. I think the word I'm looking for is "luminous," although that description's probably been beaten into the ground.

CHOCOLAT is that same old package, really, done plenty of times and touting that same message, but this time it's presented with grace and a certain lightness. You get a smattering of romance. Quite a bit of prejudice. Religion, as a restricting engine, again gets a beating. The consumption of foods is just about equated to foreplay. And Johnny Depp plucks at a steel guitar. It's a fable that is comic and uplifting and also sensuous and passionate and excellently enacted. It's a fable, and yet it's inhabited with a core of emotional reality.

Now, if they were to make a movie about my favorite candy, that sucker'd be called... CARAMEL. Does the North wind like caramel?
16 people found this helpful
MahoganeeReviewed in the United States on September 14, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Who doesn't love Johnny Depp in this Movie!!!
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What a terrific Movie, Johnny Depp was so alluring, mysterious and Sexy!! I loved this movie, about a woman, who is trying to find her place in life to make roots for her and her daughter. I wish I was in the movie and tasted all the foods and Chocolat and of course met Johnny Depp. Sparks fly between those two, she helped a woman that was abused by her husband, to putting the spark back into a couples marriage, She changed the lives of everybody in the town, that was run by a very religious man, who had a secret passion for chocolat. Everybody go see this movie, Fantastic!!!
Sharon DixonReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Love this movie
PBKiderReviewed in the United States on July 20, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
Review on new Blu-ray transfer
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In short: A miracle! This new version which is 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen (not 1080i as is the Canadian version and which I have not seen) fills the screen. The original DVD I always had a hard time getting the colors and contrast right. From my view point this movie was shot perfectly that depicted an old European town in available light. The colors were very much muted earth colors except for the reds(both hooded garments of the two main characters)and the lighting was so special in many ways. There is a lot of fog which adds to the back drop of this type of story. If only the DVD could do justice to it. This is probably the most difficult lighting to get right. But this Blu-ray does. I am a black and white photographer that is very aware of the importance of detail in the shadows. Many times, even with Blu-ray they aren't quite right. Often too contrasty but most of the time things can be very good. Some would say I'm fussy but I just have a standard I'm going for. I have an inexpensive LG Blu-ray player and also an LG screen that is not 720 but the true 1080 which does help in both details in shadows and the higher highlights. So with that I will say that out of all my Blu-rays this is the best transfer I've seen to date. The Pixar type movies are always good since they are originally in digital. The movie "9" whether you like the movie or not I think is the best of the bunch. The effects of the "aura" of the textures and colors have their own story that supports the story line: Like a good arrangement behind a voice. The Blu-ray of this movie is of that quality. The fog, all the many pastel colors, are defined but still soft. The skin tones are soft but distinct,and the way the tones and textures of various objects and scenery, that are at times enhanced or changed, are presented perfectly and now makes sense of why they did this. Each scene, for a visual type like myself, was almost distracting. I really have never seen the palette continuously before so well done in a movie:Art in motion. And....not artificial looking like some. The satin in those red hoods is terrific! When the chocolate is mixed in close-ups makes your mouth water.
The sound is in DTS (with a choice for Dolby 5.1) and is also delightful. When voices go out of the scene they are very carefully depicted moving off left or right. The sound stage has great depth to it and the separation in sounds helps the over all choice of music. The tone of the guitar is very clearly heard.
As far as a movie goes, separate from all this teckie stuff, I do think this is one of the best movies I know of. The acting is superb. The story line shows what rigidity does to ones' views. You can even see it in the light of today's political arguments and how when one side or the other becomes rigid in their view point something in the end must give.
Now instead of showing off your system with one of the Pixar cartoons, I would say this is the reference Blu-ray that will be hard to beat! I am so presently surprised. And cheap to. And one added note: This has the ability to save the place last played at. I don't even have to have the flash drive plugged in! You can eject the disk or keep it in. It has a provision that takes a few seconds but says it is looking for "updates" and then a box with the word chocolat comes up and gives you a choice to return to where you left off or not. This will become the standard I hope.
I hope this looks as good to you as it did with me. I know this sounds a bit over done but I really mean this stuff. I wouldn't take the time other wise.
10 people found this helpful
Victoria J.Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Lovely movie!
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Have watched this several times over the years. Superb performances by all. (Depp is really playing guitar in it, & chose the music.)
R. D. AndersonReviewed in the United States on May 28, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
okay quirky movie
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I like juliet binoche and johnny depp in this one. Its just a quirky little story about a town with strong beliefs and don't really like change and the chocolatier shows up and puts a little spice in their lives. I had to revist this now cause when I saw a long time ago, i thought it was just so so but hey, when you get older, you pay more attention to themes and ideas that are in film that you might have missed before.
One person found this helpful
Trudy M FergusonReviewed in the United States on August 13, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
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Just like it
Kavita TorresReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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A friend asked "How have you never seen this movie!"
Well I've seen it now. It was great
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