The Less Desirables Movie of the Week is Chocolat (2000), brought to you by the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, a/perture cinema. The film stars Juliette Binoche, Dame Judi Dench, Alfred Molina and Johnny Depp.
Per IMDb: “A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community.”
Chocolat tells the story of a woman, Vianne, (Binoche), who arrives, with her six-year-old daughter to a fictional and repressed French village in France. She leases a shop from Madame Voizin (Dench) and opens La Chocolaterie Maya. Her chocolate quickly begins to change the lives, almost magically, of the squelched townsfolk. The first problem she runs into is the local mayor, le Compte de Reynaud (Molina) who questions her opening a decadent establishment during the forty days of Lent.
She is an outsider in several ways: she doesn’t follow the town’s religious beliefs (she’s atheist), she has an illegitimate child, doesn’t dress down in drab (she wears vibrant colors). One person she gets into her delicacies is her landlord Mme. Voizin. She’s upset that she can’t see her grandson, Luc, because her daughter, Caroline, is a stick in the mud, overtly devout and sanctimonious. Vianne arranges for Luc, who is a fantastic artist to do a piece for her. It turns out that she’s just arranging for him to meet up with his grandmother and they two have a good bit of time getting to know each other, again. Once Caroline finds out, she gets upset, revealing, if nothing else, that Mme. Voizin has diabetes and all this sweet stuff she’s eating is only killing her.
A woman’s husband is reinvigorated in the ways of love from eating some of Vianne’s chocolate delights. Another leaves her husband and comes to work for Vianne making chocolates. That husband tries to extract revenge and force the wife back but the Compte thinks this makes him look like a monster and tries to help him win the wife back. It doesn’t work, he backslides to his old ways.
Meanwhile, a band of gypsies shows up on the river docks. They’re already viewed upon unfavorably but since the town is a buzz like a whacked nest of hornets they’re even more ostracized. Already the outsider, Vianne embraces them, ticking off the Compte even more. Being the kindred spirits they are, Vianne gets close to Roux (Depp), one of the gypsies. What good could come out of this? How can Vianne go on with the opposition she faces? Well, those questions and more can be answered by watching the film. I’d be giving too much away, otherwise.
One thing that stood out to me about this film was the affect that a government based on religion has on its people. Of course, this was but a town, but it’s the same concept (perhaps worse) when it’s centralized. When the entire town is expected to “fall in line” and be sheep, that’s always a recipe for disaster. This isn’t a knock on religion, as I feel it has its place if that’s what you’re into or need. It’s a knock on oppression in the name of. It’s also a matter of accepting that of which you don’t understand or have a great knowledge of. We are all guilty of that in some way, shape or form. We all shun, stay away from or have prejudices from that we don’t get, even when we don’t see it. I think that theme is appropriate for what’s going on in the world today, eh?
Rotten Tomatoes has the film as 63% Fresh with an Audience score of 83%. Like the last Movie of the Week, a big difference in the critics score and the viewers. IMDb has it at 7.3 stars out of 10. I thought it was a nice little romantic drama in which I was apprehensive about but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t cheesy. It’s actually a really good film. It was directed by Lasse Hallström who also directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Something to Talk About, The Cider House Rules and Casanova. I saw this film on Netflix and I rate it at 4 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? If so, what did you think of it?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Ah, good morning. Can I interest you in some nipples of Venus?” – Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche)