What are two things guaranteed to make women melt? Chocolate and Johnny Depp. You have been warned, so try not to drool.
Vianne, a single mother, and her young daughter open a chocolate shop in a quaint little village in the French countryside. The whole village is ridged and weighed down by every individual’s repression. The young priest enjoys Elvis, a boy has a knack for gothic art and women are stuck with impassionate men. Tensions rise as the shop opens with the beginning of the Lenten season, a time of fasting and abstinence. In fact, the shop is just across from the church, where no one can hide from its temptations.
Vianne is quickly scorned by the community, but is also secretly envied. In a town full of drab he dares to wear bright pink heels. She’s able to empower the weak and shelter the fugitives. Her daughter follows well behind her and eagerly befriends a band of river rats.
Juliette Binoche portrays Vianne with such confidence and spirit, it’s no wonder she was nominated for Best Actress. Along side Binoche’s nomination is Judi Dench, who provides a stirring role as an elderly woman who is scorned by her daughter. It’s more than a typical “cranky old woman” role, but one of subtle rebellion and fire in a town full of wet blankets.
Now yes, I did say there was Johnny Depp, but before you get frustrated and eat all the chocolate, remember, he’s a minor role who comes in a the movie a bit late. He’s the loveable leader of a band of river rats who set up camp for a while along the village’s river bed. His arrival pushes the village even further; first sweet temptation, now immoral scavengers?
My favorite thing about this movie is how it celebrates the outcast. Whether they’re selling sweets or just admiring, the courage they learn and connect through is admirable. There are a variety of characters to connect to of every age and gender. In a setting full of repressed religious tensions they are seen as the scoundrels, but it’s from within that sinners are being bread.
Chocolat is emotional without turning sappy, whimsical but not childish and wise without preaching. It’s a handmade chocolate for the eyes with a story that melts right down to the heart. This movie is perfect for a Girls Night In or a Chocoholic’s Anonymous meeting. I also suggest keeping some sort of chocolate nearby to ease cravings.
“Ah, good morning. Can I interest you in some nipples of Venus?”