Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina
Director: Lasse Hallström
Running Time: 121 mins
Chocolat is an American film about a woman who moves into a small, conservative French village at the height of Lent and sets up a luxurious chocolaterie, judged by some of the locals to be a temptation of the devil.
I have never felt more relaxed than I was watching this movie. One of the most gorgeously soothing cinematic experiences out there, Chocolat is so much more than a sappy romantic drama, with sumptuous production design, beautiful performances and gripping, thought-provoking dramatic depth throughout.
However, if there’s one thing that makes Chocolat such an irresistible watch, it’s that sense of relaxation. There is drama, there is conflict and there is depth to this movie, but it’s never overly challenging nor pretentious.
Instead, watching Chocolat is like sitting down and reading a good novel by the fireplace. It’s not a masterpiece that changed the course of cinema forever, but it’s simply a wonderful story told with majesty and elegance, such that it’s impossible not to fall in love with.
The romance between Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp is what the film is most famous for, but in truth, that’s rather a small part of Chocolat. Instead, the story is a captivating tale of going your own way, sticking to your guns and helping others, even when the crowd seems to be entirely against you.
In the lead role, Binoche exemplifies that sweetly rebellious tone perfectly, with a wonderfully charismatic performance that makes you fall in love with her and her chocolaterie almost instantly.
Siding with Binoche and the few villagers who join her in her chocolaterie, the film turns into a captivating battle of wits against the conservative leader of the local community, played by Alfred Molina, with a little bit of romantic magic thrown in when Johnny Depp appears on screen.
There’s nothing about Chocolat that’s remarkable or groundbreaking, but it’s a film that plays out with real confidence, elegantly unfolding at a patient, soothing pace as all its different parts come together in sumptuous fashion, contributing to what I think is perhaps the most relaxing movie ever made. So, that’s why I’m giving the film an 8.0 overall.