Chocolat (2000 film)

Last updated
Chocolat
Chocolat sheet.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs
Based on Chocolat
by Joanne Harris
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Andrew Mondshein
Music by Rachel Portman
Distributed by Miramax Films (through Buena Vista International outside the US [1] )
Release date
  • December 22, 2000 (2000-12-22)(United States)
  • March 2, 2001 (2001-03-02)(United Kingdom)
Running time
121 minutes
Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Languages
  • English
  • French
Budget$25 million
Box office$152.7 million

Chocolat (French pronunciation:  [ʃokola] ) is a 2000 comedy-drama film, based on the 1999 novel Chocolat by the English author, Joanne Harris, directed by Lasse Hallström. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the beginning of Lent with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. She opens a small chocolaterie. Soon, she and her chocolate influence the lives of the townspeople of this repressed French community in different and interesting ways.

Contents

The film began a limited release in the United States on December 22, 2000, and went on general release on January 19, 2001. Critics gave the drama positive reviews, praising its acting performances, its screenplay and Rachel Portman's score. The film garnered a number of accolades, including many for its screenplay, direction, acting, and music. It received five nominations at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Binoche won the European Film Award for Best Actress for her performance, while Dench was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2001.

Plot

Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), an expert chocolatière and her six-year-old daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), drift across Europe following the north wind. In 1959, they arrive in a quiet, traditional French village, overseen by village mayor the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) at the start of the 40 days of Lent. Vianne opens a chocolate shop, much to Reynaud's chagrin.

Vianne wears more colourful clothing than the village women, does not subscribe to religious convention, and is a single mother. Although not fitting in well with the townspeople she is nevertheless optimistic. With a friendly and alluring nature, she begins to make headway with some of the villagers. Reynaud speaks out against her for tempting the people during a time of abstinence and self-denial. The Comte will not admit his wife left him.

Armande (Judi Dench), her elderly, eccentric landlady, is one of Vianne's first allies. She is unhappy her cold, devoutly pious daughter Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss) will not let her see her grandson Luc as she is a "bad influence". A widow, Caroline is overly protective of Luc. Vianne arranges for him and his grandmother to see each other in the chocolaterie, where they bond well. Caroline later tells Vianne her mother is diabetic, though Armande continues to eat the chocolate despite this.

Vianne also develops a friendship with troubled Josephine (Lena Olin), a victim of brutal beatings by her husband Serge (Peter Stormare). After her husband violently injures her head, Josephine leaves him, moving in with Vianne and Anouk. As she begins to work at the chocolate shop and learns the craft, Josephine's confidence slowly increases. At the same time, under Reynaud's instruction, Serge seemingly repents his abusive behaviour, asking Josephine to come back to him. Josephine declines. Later that night, a drunken Serge breaks into the chocolaterie and attempts to attack both women, but Josephine knocks him out.

As the rivalry between Vianne and Reynaud intensifies, a band of river Romani camp near the village. While most of the town objects to them, Vianne embraces them, developing a mutual attraction to Roux (Johnny Depp). They hold a birthday party for Armande with villagers and Romani on Roux's boat. When Caroline sees Luc dancing with his grandmother, she begins to see his grandmother's influence in his life may be beneficial. After the party, Josephine and Anouk fall asleep on a boat, while Roux and Vianne make love. Later that night, Serge sets fire to the boat where Josephine and Anouk are sleeping. They escape unharmed, but Vianne's faith in the village is shaken. Luc helps Armande home from the party. Her death soon after devastates both him and his mother. After the fire, Roux packs up and leaves with his group, much to Vianne's sadness.

Reynaud initially thought that the fire was an accident until Serge confesses to starting it, saying he thought it was what Reynaud wanted. Horrified at the thought that people could have been killed and fearing people would blame him for the arson, Reynaud orders Serge to leave the village and never return.

With the return of the north wind, Vianne decides that she cannot win against Reynaud's strict traditions, and decides to move on. Anouk refuses to go, and during a scuffle, the urn containing the ashes of Vianne's mother falls and shatters. As they go through the kitchen, Vianne sees a group of townspeople, who love her and the way she has changed their lives, making chocolate for the festival she had planned for Easter Sunday. She decides to stay.

Despite the shifting sentiment in the town, Reynaud remains staunch in his abstinence from pleasures such as chocolate. On the Saturday evening before Easter, he sees Caroline leaving the chocolaterie, which devastates him. Convinced chocolate will make people stray from their faith, he sneaks into Vianne's and starts smashing the special chocolate creations made for the Easter festival. After accidentally tasting a morsel of chocolate that falls on his lip, he eagerly devours much of the chocolate in the window display before collapsing in tears and eventually falling asleep. The next morning, Vianne awakens him. Mutual respect is established, and Pere Henri improvises an inspiring sermon. The Easter Sunday sermon and the festival are a success, and the narrator reveals that Reynaud and Caroline start a relationship half a year later. Josephine takes over running Serge's café, which she renames Café Armande. Vianne throws her mother's ashes out into the north wind.

The narrator concludes the story: Roux returns in the summer to be with Vianne, who resolves to stay, having found a home for herself and her daughter in the village. Finally, it is revealed that grown-up Anouk is the narrator.

Cast

Production

Filming

Filming: Vianne's shop in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain Flavigny sur Ozerain 09 Chocolat.jpg
Filming: Vianne's shop in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain

Filming took place between May and August 2000 in the medieval village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain in the region of Burgundy and on the Rue De L'ancienne Poste in Beynac-et-Cazenac in Dordogne. The river scenes were filmed at Fonthill Lake at Fonthill Bishop in Wiltshire and interior scenes at Shepperton Studios, England. [2]

Music

The soundtrack was nominated for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.

Music written by Rachel Portman, except where noted. [3]

  1. "Minor Swing" (Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli) – 2:13
  2. "Main Titles" – 3:07
  3. "The Story of Grandmere" – 4:08
  4. "Vianne Sets Up Shop" – 1:57
  5. "Three Women" – 1:01
  6. "Vianne Confronts the Comte" – 1:21
  7. "Other Possibilities" – 1:34
  8. "Guillaume's Confession" – 1:29
  9. "Passage of Time" – 2:32
  10. "Boycott Immorality" – 4:38
  11. "Party Preparations" – 1:28
  12. "Chocolate Sauce" – 0:48
  13. "Fire" – 2:37
  14. "Vianne Gazes at the River" – 1:06
  15. "Mayan Bowl Breaks" – 2:14
  16. "Taste of Chocolate" – 3:08
  17. "Ashes to the Wind / Roux Returns" – 2:18
  18. "Caravan" (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol)– 3:43

Reception

Box office

Chocolat grossed US$152,699,946 worldwide, on a production budget of US$25 million. [4] It was not successful in France. [5]

Critical reception

The film received a mixture of reviews from critics with some critics dismissive of the film's tone. [6] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 62% of 117 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.99/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Chocolat is a charmingly light-hearted fable with a lovely performance by Binoche". [7] On Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film holds a 64/100 rating, based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [8]

Chicago Tribune critic Michael Wilmington called Chocolat "a delightful confection, a cream-filled (and slightly nutty) bon-bon of a [...] tantalizing, delectable and randy movie of melting eroticism and toothsome humor." He felt that the film "is a feast of fine actors – and every one of them is a joy to watch." [9] Similarly, Peter Travers from Rolling Stone declared the project "a sinfully scrumptious bonbon [...] Chocolat may be slight, but don’t discount Hallstrom’s artful finesse [...] Except for some indigestible whimsy Chocolat is yummy." [10] Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times , gave the film three out of four stars. He found the film was "charming and whimsical, and Binoche reigns as a serene and wise goddess." [11] New York Post 's Lou Lumenick called Chocolat "the soothing cinematic equivalent of a warm cup of decadently rich cocoa," led by "melt-in-your-mouth performances" from Binoche, Molina and Dench. [12]

In his review for Variety , Lael Loewenstein found that "Hallstrom couldn’t have asked for a better cast to embody those themes; likewise, his production team has done an exquisite job of giving life to Robert Nelson Jacobs’ taut script. Chocolat [...] is a richly textured comic fable that blends Old World wisdom with a winking, timely commentary on the assumed moral superiority of the political right." [13] Mick LaSalle of the Los Angeles Times remarked that the film was "as delectable as its title, but for all its sensuality it is ultimately concerned with the spirit." He noted that Chocolat "is a work of artistry and craftsmanship at the highest level, sophisticated in its conception and execution, yet possessed of wide appeal." [14] The New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell found the film "extraordinarily well cast" and wrote: "This crowd-pleaser is the feature-film version of milk chocolate: an art house movie for people who don't like art house movies." [15]

Lisa Schwarzbaum, writing for Entertainment Weekly , graded the film with a 'B–' rating, summarizing it "as agreeably sweet as advertised, with a particularly yummy performance by Juliette Binoche," [16] while Jay Carr from The Boston Globe found that the film "may not be deep, but it certainly is lip-smacking." [17] Mike Clark of USA Today was more cutting in his review, saying that there are "never enough goodies to keep the two-hour running time from seeming like three." [17] In a further negative review, Dennis Lim from The Village Voice criticized the film for its "condescending, self-congratulatory attack on provincial sanctimony." He called Chocolat an "airy, pseudo-folkloric gibberish at best." [18]

Following the criticisms, Harvey Weinstein challenged the USA Today critic, Andy Seiler, to choose a venue where the film was showing to try to prove to him that audiences liked it even if not all critics did. After the screening in Washington D.C., Weinstein asked the audience for their feedback and no one said anything negative. [6]

Accolades

The film was nominated for many awards, including five Academy Awards, one of which was Best Picture. Among significant awards won for work on this picture were the Art Directors Guild award 2001 for Excellence in Production Design, the Bogey Award given by the German journal Blickpunkt: Film, based on audience numbers, the Audience Award 2001 of the European Film Awards, for Juliette Binoche, and the Screen Actors Guild award 2001, to Judi Dench for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. The film also attracted numerous BAFTA nominations, and Rachel Portman's score was nominated for a Grammy Award.

List of awards and nominations
AwardCategoryRecipient(s)Result
Academy Awards Best Picture David Brown, Kit Golden and Leslie HolleranNominated
Best Actress Juliette Binoche Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Judi Dench Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Robert Nelson Jacobs Nominated
Best Original Score Rachel Portman Nominated
ADG Awards Contemporary Film David Gropman, John Frankish, Lucy Richardson and Louise MarzaroliWon
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Andrew MondsheinNominated
Awards Circuit Community AwardsBest Original ScoreRachel PortmanNominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Juliette BinocheNominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Judi DenchNominated
Lena Olin Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Robert Nelson JacobsNominated
Best Cinematography Roger Pratt Nominated
Best Costume Design Renee Ehrlich KalfusNominated
Best Makeup and Hair Naomi DonneNominated
Best Production Design David GropmanNominated
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography AwardRoger PrattNominated
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Period/Fantasy FilmRenee Ehrlich KalfusNominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Judi DenchNominated
David di Donatello Awards David di Donatello for Best Foreign Film FilmNominated
European Film Awards People's Choice - ActressJuliette BinocheWon
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Juliette BinocheNominated
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy FilmNominated
Best Original Score Rachel PortmanNominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Judi DenchNominated
Golden Moon AwardsBest FilmFilmNominated
Goya Awards Best European Film FilmNominated
Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Rachel PortmanNominated
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film FilmNominated
Nastro d'Argento Best Female DubbingFranca D'AmatoWon
Online Film & Television AwardsBest Supporting ActressJudi DenchNominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Robert Nelson JacobsWon
Best Supporting Actress Judi DenchNominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture CastNominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Juliette BinocheNominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Judi DenchWon
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Judi DenchNominated
USC Scripter Awards USC Scripter AwardRobert Nelson JacobsNominated
World Soundtrack Awards Soundtrack Composer of the YearRachel PortmanNominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Robert Nelson JacobsNominated

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  17. 1 2 Chocolat at Metacritic
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