Saturday, December 24, 2011


A mysterious, nomadic woman (Juliette Binoche) and her young daughter settle into a small, cloistered French village dominated by the local Church and open a confectionery at the outset of the Lenten season, much to the perturb of the rigid town mayor (Alfred Molina). Offering desert oriented remedies to the townspeople and gradually becoming involved in their lives, the town becomes further disrupted by the arrival of river gypsies led by an equally mysterious Irish captain (Johnny Depp), who garners the affection of the young woman and gives the mayor an opportunity to impose his strict morality. "Chocolat" is the kind of offbeat and well directed sentimental fare that we've come to expect from Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom and features a nice performance from the grossly under appreciated Binoche. Supporting players are fine as well including Molina, Judi Dench, and Hallstrom's wife Lena Olin (although its strange to watch her scenes with Binoche after watching the more intimate ones they share in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"). Despite these good elements, the problem of the film lies with its heavy-handedness and its hammering away at underscored points. Like the chocolates confections Binoche serves in her shop, "Chocolat" is a rich, warm film that is somehow lacking in substance.