Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs. Based on the novel by Joanne Harris.
Released: December 2000
Starring: Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Carrie-Anne Mos
A mysterious and magical fable-like tale about an eccentric, colourful and embracing chocolatier named Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) and how she brightened up a deeply rooted traditional French village. Her provocative clothing, illegitimate child and outspoken values made her unwanted in the village, being outcast as an evil influence. Despite this, her Chocolaterie brings hope and perspective to the guilty customers. Amongst this, there is a compelling love interest between Vianne and a free-spirited Irish traveller, Roux (Johnny Depp).
I love the lead actress, Juliette Binoche, but I do wonder if they chose her because Marion Cotillard was unavailable. In any case, they are two gorgeously elegant and talented French women.
This film is about depriving ourselves of things purely for the discipline, particularly pressured by religion or the expectations of society. With everybody being up tight about keeping a perfect front for others, it seems easy for the important things in their lives to crumble in the background. Perhaps marriage, not pursuing new love, staying in dangerous situations from fear of persecution, or not allowing themselves to try new things.
The Chocolaterie represents freedom and indulgence. It is a moral that allows people to make mistakes, to not feel guilty about taking pleasure in something or feeling damned or frowned upon. They begin to give into desires, discover new feelings and acting on them.
The soundtrack is authentically French! Minor Swing by Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli makes you want to get up and dance, with other classical songs that bring out the essence of the town. Lots of guitars and drums that gets your feet tapping. Fantastic songs.
This is a movie set in the year of 1959. The women wear dresses and hats and the men in suits. Everything seems black and white until the woman with pink shoes and bright coloured dresses arrives. The costumes are absolutely to die for. The shoes, the belts the make up… So beautiful!
I have to say, the first few times I watched this, I was expecting it to be a bit more mystical with a Chocolatier who is very wise and knowledgeable, helping people in every place that she moves to. But she is only human who makes mistakes and questions life like the people in the village opened themselves up to do. Now that I’m older, I can see that this was purposeful. Vianne is flawed too which just makes this fable a much more down to earth film.
For all the chocolate lovers, Johnny Depp lovers, romantics, dreamers and free thinkers. This is a personable film that is easy to watch and brings hope to people, particularly to anyone who feels a little different or who questions society’s morals, or the things that we are influenced by.
An uplifting, soulful journey of how a little sweetness in life can bring people together.
Jodie’s rating: 8/10