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"CHOCOLAT"
(2000) (Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Extreme Moderate Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Heavy Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Drama: When a single, non-churchgoing mother sets up her chocolate shop in a small, religiously repressed French village, she arouses both desire and concern amongst the various residents.
PLOT:
It's sometime in the 1950s and in the tranquil French village of Lansquenet, everyone knows what's expected of them, and if they forget, Comte de Reynaud (ALFRED MOLINA), the town's mayor and moral bastion, is there to remind them. With Lent just beginning and a new priest, Pere Henri (HUGH O'CONOR), have only just recently arrived at the local church everyone attends, Reynaud has his hands full leading the town by example and writing Henri's sermons.

Thus, when the north winds blow Vianne Rocher (JULIETTE BINOCHE) and her daughter, Anouk (VICTOIRE THIVISOL), into town, Reynaud isn't particularly happy. For not only does the single mother not attend church, but she's also planning on opening a chocolaterie and living above it in a space leased from the village's frumpy, 70-year-old libertine, Armande Voizin (JUDI DENCH).

Soon, Reynaud is on a personal crusade to shut down Vianne's shop on the moral grounds that its decadent pleasures will corrupt the villagers. Among them is Caroline Clairmont (CARRIE-ANNE MOSS), Armande's estranged daughter who won't let her son, Luc (AURELIEN PARENT KOENIG), see his grandmother.

Nevertheless, Vianne makes friends with various villagers including Luc, as well as Josephine Muscat (LENA OLIN), the abused wife of café owner, Serge (PETER STORMARE), and Guillaume Blerot (JOHN WOOD), whose dog likes Vianne's treats while he's interested in one of the town's widows, Madame Audel (LESLIE CARON).

When a traveling band of Irish gypsies, led by Roux (JOHNNY DEPP), arrive by river, Vianne discovers a kindred spirit while Reynaud, whose wife is on an extended vacation abroad, becomes more agitated by what he sees as yet another immoral outsider attempting to corrupt his people. As Vianne takes in Josephine after Serge beats her one too many times, and becomes romantically interested in Roux, she does what she can to divert Reynaud's efforts to drive her out of the village, while her irresistible confections awaken the villagers' hidden appetites and longings.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's probably not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For a scene of sensuality and some violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JULIETTE BINOCHE plays a non-churchgoing chocolate shop owner and single mother who arrives in a morally uptight village and proceeds to stir things up. While falling for Roux, she awakens the villagers' appetites for chocolate and life, while invoking the wrath of Reynaud.
  • LENA OLIN plays an abused wife taken in by Vianne who gains strength and blossoms under her care.
  • JOHNNY DEPP plays a peaceful, boat-traveling, Irish gypsy who arrives in the village and draws the attention of both Vianne and Reynaud, but for disparate reasons.
  • JUDI DENCH plays the village's somewhat frumpy dowager with an insatiable sweet tooth despite her diabetes, who hates that her daughter has forbidden her grandson from seeing her.
  • ALFRED MOLINA plays the town's mayor and bastion of morality who sees it fit that he lead the village in maintaining just that through both example and by driving out any outside forces that might corrupt the villagers.
  • PETER STORMARE plays Josephine's alcoholic and abusive husband who's partially reformed by Reynaud, but goes back to his old ways once back on the bottle.
  • CARRIE-ANNE MOSS plays Armande's daughter who doesn't understand her mother and her actions and attitudes, and thus forbids her son from seeing her.
  • HUGH O'CONOR plays the town's new and quite young priest who allows Reynaud to write his sermons and control the town's morality.
  • VICTOIRE THIVISOL plays Vianne's somewhat precocious daughter who hates their constant moving from village to village.
  • AURELIEN PARENT KOENIG plays Caroline's son who sneaks behind his mother's back to see his grandmother and has a penchant for drawing (including that of macabre material).
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film. A flashback scene shows a miscellaneous couple in bed having sex (passionate kissing, movement with both alternating being on top and the sight of silhouetted bare breasts), while a running gag has a couple returning to the chocolate shop for some Viagra-like beans that have reinvigorated a middle-aged couple's sex life (we don't see them having sex, although we do see a dog preparing to after eating the same beans). Some making out also occurs between a man and a woman who isn't sure of the identity of her daughter's father.

    Violence consists of an abusive husband drunkenly coming after his wife and attacking both her and the protagonist (with other past violence implied). A person sets fire to several houseboats, and while no one is harmed, those scenes may be tense or unsettling for some viewers. Various instances of tense family scenes are present, including the above, an adult daughter forbidding her son from seeing his grandmother and some strife between the protagonist and her young daughter. In addition, a family member dies during the story.

    Profanity consists of just a handful of relatively tame expletives and colorful phrases, while some smoking and drinking occur (with the abusive husband being drunk in several scenes). Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, a few bloody marks and/or bruises are seen and a few instances of imitative behavior are present. If the preceding summary doesn't completely answer your questions about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who wishes to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in it.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see a bottle of booze next to Armande.
  • Suddenly feeling happy after drinking some hot chocolate laced with chili pepper, Armande asks Vianne if she's sure she didn't put some booze in there as well (she didn't).
  • Some people in a café drink.
  • Serge is drunk in several scenes.
  • After it's discovered that she takes insulin shots for her diabetes, Armande sarcastically asks if she could be called a "drug addict" since that sounds more glamorous.
  • Vianne and Armande appear to have drinks.
  • People have wine at a party.
  • A man drinks beer in a café.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Luc has a tiny bit of a bloody nose (but we don't know why).
  • We see bruises and what looks like a small cut on Josephine's head (from where Serge evidently hit her).
  • We briefly see some bruises and related marks on Armande's thighs (from her insulin shots).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may see Vianne as having some of both for not being a churchgoing person (and not taking her daughter to church, although she later tells Anouk that she can go if she wants).
  • On the other side, some will see Reynaud as having both for ruling the town with a repressively religious control and for trying to run Vianne out of town (including spreading rumors/gossip about her and telling the townspeople not to associate with her, etc.).
  • Josephine shoplifts from Vianne's store, but later admits to that and says that she can't control herself.
  • We learn and then see proof that Serge is both mentally and physically abusive to his wife, Josephine.
  • Reynaud leads the townspeople in an effort to make Roux and his people move on and away from their town.
  • Serge also has a bad attitude toward Roux and a young girl with him, saying that he doesn't serve animals.
  • A person sets fire to Roux's flotilla of boats.
  • Reynaud breaks into Vianne's store and begins defacing/destroying all of her chocolate creations.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Serge, who's obviously drunk, breaks the window to Vianne's front door and comes looking for Josephine (calling her a "stupid woman" and "worthless cow"), kicking a chair out of his way. Hearing this, the two women (with Anouk nearby) try to barricade the bedroom door but he eventually pushes it open. Once inside, he grabs Vianne and throws her to the floor. He then grabs Josephine by the hair and she screams. Vianne then jumps on Serge, but he throws her to the ground and begins choking her. In turn, Josephine hits him over the head with a skillet, knocking him out. (Both women then laugh at this, thus lessening the impact of the material).
  • A person sets fire to Roux's flotilla of boats and soon two of them are on fire. Vianne fears that Anouk and Josephine are on one of them that's now in the middle of the river and tries to swim out to it, but Roux stops her just before it explodes. We later see, however, that Josephine and Anouk are okay.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Briefly carried by Reynaud as if he's going to use in on someone, but instead he uses it to jimmy a window at Vianne's store and deface some of her storefront chocolate creations.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Who the hell are you?" "Piss," "Don't look so damned pleased with yourself," "Bitch" and "Bastards."
  • Josephine shoplifts from Vianne's store, but later admits to that and says that she can't control herself.
  • Roux pretends to eat an earthworm to fool Anouk.
  • A person blows fire from their mouth at a carnival.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A tiny bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 damns, 1 ass, 1 hell and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "God," "Jesus" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Vianne gives one female customer some beans to awaken the passion in her husband (who's not there). This woman says she's obviously never met her husband and Vianne says she's obviously never tried the beans. Later, the husband finds those beans, tastes one, and then downs the whole bag. Even later, he then walks in and amorously eyes his wife who's on her hands and knees (with her clothed rear end facing him), scrubbing the shower. She then turns around and sees him and the scene then cuts away to a long distance shot of their home where we see the husband ravishing the wife and making some sounds (both are clothed and only seen from the shoulders up through a small window that the wife then closes). It's then implied that they have sex (and it's all played for laughs rather than eroticism).
  • Vianne shows some cleavage.
  • Armande notes that Vianne's shop looks like an "early Mexican brothel" (based on its Mexican motif).
  • Another kid tells Anouk that he's heard she doesn't have a father. She replies that she does have one, but that they just don't know who he is.
  • The woman from the above bean scene returns to the store and asks Vianne if she has any more beans. Vianne asks how many she wants and the woman enthusiastically asks how many she has. We later see both her and her husband happily buying more beans together.
  • In a flashback, we see a man and woman passionately kissing in bed (after eating food rumored to unleash certain yearnings). We see him on top of her (and briefly see the side of her bare breast). She then climbs on top of him (with the sheet covering her from the waist down) and we see the silhouette of her hanging breasts as well as her moving on top of him and then a shot of his pleasured reaction to this (we don't hear any related sounds, however).
  • A man confesses to a priest that he had impure thoughts caused by Vianne (who wanted him to get together with a widow he's interested in).
  • Vianne offers Reynaud some white tipped chocolates, calling them (what sounded like) "Nipples of Venus."
  • We briefly see a man's dog mount another dog after eating a few of the above "passion arousing" beans off the floor (but there's no associated movement).
  • Vianne and Roux passionately kiss in his boat. Later, when they hear a commotion nearby, he gets up and we see him putting his suspenders back on, but neither he nor Vianne are undressed in any other way.
  • We briefly see a chocolate figure of a completely nude woman (with bare breasts).
  • SMOKING
  • A few miscellaneous characters briefly smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Reynaud and his wife must have some sort of strained relationship as she stays abroad for longer and longer periods of time.
  • Caroline and Armande have a strained daughter/mother relationship where Caroline has now forbidden her son, Luc, to ever see Armande. This becomes further strained when Vianne arranges for meetings between the grandmother and grandson. We also hear that Luc's father died sometime in the past (and so Caroline has been raising him by herself).
  • We see that Josephine is scared of her husband and then learn and see that he's both mentally and physically abusive toward her.
  • Vianne briefly believes that her daughter was killed in a boat fire.
  • A boy finds his dead grandmother and then there's a brief funeral scene.
  • Anouk tells her mother that she hates her when Vianne wants them to leave town.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Chocolate, of course, and its symbolic use in the film.
  • The battle that builds between Vianne and Reynaud, and the preexisting conflict between Caroline and Armande.
  • Josephine finally leaving her abusive husband.
  • We see that Luc draws violent images (one has a pole or something similar running through a man in one of his sketches).
  • Diabetes.
  • A boy finds his dead grandmother.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see that Luc draws violent images (one has a pole or something similar running through a man in one of his sketches).
  • We briefly see some young kids struggling with each other in the street. An adult woman then drags a girl inside by her ear.
  • Mad at the mayor, Vianne goes into his office, purposefully knocks over his wife's photo, and then once outside, kicks and hits a statue on the street.
  • We see bruises and what looks like a small cut on Josephine's head (from where Serge evidently hit her).
  • Serge, who's obviously drunk, breaks the window to Vianne's front door and comes looking for Josephine (calling her a "stupid woman" and "worthless cow"), kicking a chair out of his way. Hearing this, the two women (with Anouk nearby) try to barricade the bedroom door but he eventually pushes it open. Once inside, he grabs Vianne and throws her to the floor. He then grabs Josephine by the hair and she screams. Vianne then jumps on Serge, but he throws her to the ground and begins choking her. In turn, Josephine hits him over the head with a skillet, knocking him out. (Both women then laugh at this, thus lessening the impact of the material).
  • A person sets fire to several of Roux's boats with gasoline, damaging one and causing another to explode after being completely engulfed in flames (no one is hurt, however).
  • With Anouk reluctant to leave the town, Vianne grabs and yanks her along (with the girl saying that she's hurting her).
  • Reynaud slices, cuts and stabs various chocolate creations in Vianne's storefront window.



  • Reviewed December 18, 2000 / Posted December 22, 2000

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