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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Chocolat

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Rated: R
RunTime: 116 Minutes
Release Date: January 2001
Genres: Drama, Romance

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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

"Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, where people believed in tranquillity. You knew your place in the scheme of things and, if you happened to forget, someone would remind you." That's the way Lasse Hallstrom ("The Cider House Rules") begins this romantic magical fable about a mysterious single mother (Juliette Binoche) opens a chocolate shop during Lent, antagonizing the righteous, patriarchal Mayor (Alfred Molina) and young priest (Hugh O'Conor) but tempting and transforming the stodgy, drab townsfolk with her tasty confections - while teaching tolerance. A Julia Roberts lookalike, Juliette Binoche embodies this sensual, cocoa-obsessed woman, delving into life's dark bitterness and frothy sweetness, as she mothers her troubled daughter (Victoire Thivisol) and romances sexy Johnny Depp, a guitar-strumming vagabond. Carrie Ann Moss is a repressed mother whose keeps her son away from his feisty, outspoken grandmother, played by Judi Dench. Hallstrom's real-life wife, Lena Olin engages as the abused wife of brutish cafe-owner Peter Stormare but Leslie Caron has barely a cameo as a Gallic matron. Combining a dollop of "Like Water for Chocolate," a dash of "Tom Jones" and a pinch of "Woman on Top," the story uses chocolate as a metaphor for pleasure, freedom and rebellion. Adapting Joanne Harris' richly layered best-seller, screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs has wisely changed the villainous priest into a prissy nobleman. Roger Pratt's cinematography is luscious so, although it's utterly predictable, this is a scrumptious morsel that melts "ever so slowly on your tongue and tortures you with pleasure." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Chocolat" is a delicious 8, a decadent, delectable treat. Indulge yourself!

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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