MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT, by veteran French director Claude Chabrol (LA
CEREMONIE), is a non-mystery mystery.
Its central conceit is that Jeanne Pollet (Anna Mouglalis) may have been
accidentally swapped at birth with Guillaume Polonski (Rodolphe Pauly). When
Jeanne, an older teen, hears this story, she immediately begins to wonder if it
might be true. After all, Guillaume's father, André (Jacques Dutronc), is a
famous pianist, which is exactly what she is training to be. Maybe they share
the same genes.
The mystery, however, turns out to be more about Mika (Isabelle Huppert),
Guillaume's stepmother, who may be involved in some foul play. Huppert, who has
been terrific in many French films, did her best work in THE PIANO TEACHER,
which was released earlier this year in the United States.
The whole plot is so obvious that the movie might as well have dispensed
entirely with the pretext of assuming that we might not be able to figure it
out. This is a significant problem since there isn't much more to the story
than the mysteries of the possible baby swap and the foul play.
The only part of the production that is consistently exceptional is the piano
music. Luckily, we get to hear a lot of it.
MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT runs 1:39. The film is in French with English subtitles.
It is not rated but might be PG for thematic elements and would be acceptable
for any kid old enough to be able to read subtitles.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes