"Thus open the gates of paradise."

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Chocolat

06 Apr 2002


Juliette Binoche in interview,
from the Official Web Site


Lena Olin, in a scene from the film

The trailer for the film has a clip from a scene with Judy Dench and Johnny Depp. She says to him, "If I were 20 years younger, your virtue would be in danger." It's been about four months since I saw that clip, and I've been trying to guess the rejoinder ever since. Maddeningly, that scene ended up on the cutting room floor, and so I'll have to read the book to find out the next line, if there is one at all. And no -- I wasn't able to come up with anything particularly clever, which is why I write this kind of thing rather than big-budget Oscar-nominated films.

If I could write with any kind of predictable quality, I think I'd be tempted to write a decent Story. "Chocolat" certainly tells a  Story, and if you've seen it, you'll know why I bother to capitalize it. The film shows us a fable, or perhaps a cautionary tale. It does not foist a (small "s")  screenplay upon us though, and thank goodness. No car chases, no explosions, no computer generated lions. No wonder this didn't win the OscarTM for best picture. It's just story and characters, and if you have a problem with that, then go rent "Gladiator". 

I've hear criticism that the film is too sweet, too neat, or lightweight. It's one of the peculiarities of the English language that you can get away with a statement like that. "Too neat" for what? Compared to what? Do you realize what else is in theatres right now? Mostly junk like "Tomcats" and "Monkeybone", both of which I expect to have disappeared by the time I finish writing this review. There's nothing wrong with it. Go see it.

To the left, I've included pictures of Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin. I first saw both of them in "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being" at the Pantages Theatre (when it was still a cinema). I'm not sure what drew me to that film on a rainy spring night fifteen years ago, but was I ever glad I went, because Binoche and Olin are both fabulous. [...] A half hour of staring into space hasn't enabled me to put into words exactly why, so I'm afraid you'll just have to trust me on this one.

 Related Sites

Chocolat (Official Site)
Chocolat (IMDB)