ⓘ Chocolat (2000 film)

                                     

ⓘ Chocolat (2000 film)

Chocolat is a 2000 romantic-drama film based on the novel Chocolat by the English author, Joanne Harris. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives in the 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 fictional, repressed French village in very different and interesting ways.

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 Lancienne 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.

                                     

1. Plot

Vianne Rocher Juliette Binoche, an expert chocolatier and her six-year-old daughter Anouk Victoire Thivisol, drift across Europe following the north wind. In 1959, they travel to a quiet French village that closely adheres to tradition, as dominated by the village mayor, the Comte de Reynaud Alfred Molina. Just as the villagers begin observing the 40 days of Lent, Vianne opens a chocolate shop, much to Reynauds displeasure.

Vianne wears more colourful clothing than the village women, does not ascribe to religious convention, and has an illegitimate child. She does not fit in well with the townspeople but is nevertheless optimistic about her business. With her 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 that his wife has left him.

One of the first to fall under the spell of Vianne and her confections is Armande Judi Dench, her elderly, eccentric landlady. Armande is unhappy that her cold, devoutly pious daughter Caroline Carrie-Anne Moss will not let her see her grandson Luc because Caroline thinks Armande is a "bad influence". Having lost her husband, Caroline is overly protective of Luc and does not even want her son to play. Vianne arranges for Luc and his grandmother to see each other in the chocolaterie, where they develop a close bond. Caroline later reveals to Vianne that her mother is a diabetic, though Armande continues to eat the chocolate despite her condition.

Vianne also develops a friendship with a troubled woman, Josephine Lena Olin, who is a victim of brutal beatings by her abusive husband Serge Peter Stormare. After her husband violently hits her and injures her head, Josephine leaves him and moves in with Vianne and Anouk. As she begins to work at the chocolate shop and Vianne teaches her the craft, Josephine becomes a self-confident, changed woman. At the same time, under the instruction of Reynaud, Serge, having seemingly changed into a better man, asks Josephine to come back to him. Finally happy and fulfilled on her own, Josephine declines his request. A drunken Serge breaks into the chocolaterie later that night and attempts to attack both women, before Josephine, in a moment of empowerment, knocks him out with a skillet.

As the rivalry between Vianne and Reynaud intensifies, a band of river Roma camp out on the outskirts of the village. While most of the town objects to their presence, Vianne embraces them, developing a mutual attraction to Roux Johnny Depp. Together they hold a birthday party for Armande with other villagers and Romani on Rouxs boat. When Caroline sees Luc, who sneaked out to the party, dancing with his grandmother, she begins to see how strict she has been with her son and that his grandmothers influence in his life may, after all, 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. Both escape unharmed, but Viannes 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 Viannes sadness.

Serge later visits Reynaud at his home to confess to starting the fire, which Reynaud initially thought was divine intervention--he is horrified at the thought of people almost being killed as a result. Realizing that Serge is beyond help, and fearing that people would also blame him for the arson, Reynaud demands that Serge leave the village and never come back.

With the return of the north wind, Vianne decides that she cannot win against Reynaud or the strict traditions of the town. She decides to move elsewhere. Anouk refuses to go, and during a scuffle, an urn containing the ashes of Viannes mother falls and shatters. After a moment, Vianne goes into her kitchen to see a group of townspeople, who have come to love her and the way she has changed their lives, making chocolate for the festival Vianne had planned for Easter Sunday. Realising that she has brought change to the town, 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 leave the chocolaterie, which devastates him. Convinced now that chocolate will make people stray from their faith, he sneaks into Viannes house in order to ruin her preparations for the Easter festival. After accidentally tasting a morsel of chocolate that fell on his lips, he finally yields to temptation and devours much of the chocolate in the window display before collapsing into tears and eventually falling asleep. The next day, Vianne awakens the chastened mayor, mutual respect between them is established, and Pere Henri improvises an inspiring sermon. Both the Easter Sunday sermon and the festival are a success, and the storyteller reveals that Reynaud and Caroline start a relationship half a year later. Josephine takes over running Serges cafe, which she renames Cafe Armande. Vianne throws her mothers ashes out the window, which are carried away by the departing north wind.

The unseen narrator concludes the story: Roux returns in the summer to be with Vianne who, despite her constant need for change, resolves to stay, having found a home for herself and her daughter in the village. At the very end, it is revealed that her grown-up daughter Anouk herself is the storyteller.

                                     

2. Reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 63% of 117 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6/10. The websites critical consensus states, Chocolat is a charmingly light-hearted fable with a lovely performance by Binoche". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

The film grossed some US$152.699.946 worldwide, on a production budget of US$25 million.

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 Portmans score was nominated for a Grammy Award.

                                     

3. Awards and honours

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was also nominated for eight BAFTAs, and four Golden Globes. Judi Dench won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in the film.

Won
  • Excellence in Production Design Award Feature Film - Contemporary Films
  • Art Directors Guild ADG
  • European Film Awards
  • Best Actress Juliette Binoche
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival
  • Audience Award Lasse Hallstrom
  • Best Screenplay - Adapted Robert Nelson Jacobs
  • San Diego Film Critics
  • Best Supporting Actress Judi Dench
  • Screen Actors Guild SAG
Nominated
  • Best Original Score Rachel Portman
  • Best Actress Juliette Binoche
  • Best Screenplay - Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Robert Nelson Jacobs
  • Best Picture
  • Academy Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress Judi Dench
  • Best Screenplay - Adapted Robert Nelson Jacobs
  • Best Makeup & Hair Naomi Donne
  • Best Costume Design Renee Ehrlich Kalfus
  • Best Supporting Actress Judi Dench
  • Best Production Design David Gropman
  • Best Actress Juliette Binoche
  • BAFTA Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress Lena Olin
  • Best Cinematography Roger Pratt
  • Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Judi Dench
  • Best Original Score Rachel Portman
  • Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Juliette Binoche
  • Best Picture - Musical or Comedy
  • Golden Globe Awards
  • Satellite Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress - Drama Judi Dench
  • Screen Actors Guild SAG
  • Best Cast - Motion Picture
  • Best Actress Juliette Binoche
  • USC Scripter Award
  • Soundtrack Composer of the Year Rachel Portman
  • World Soundtrack Awards
  • Writers Guild of America WGA
  • Best Screenplay - Adapted Robert Nelson Jacobs


                                     

4. Soundtrack

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.

  • "Minor Swing" Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli – 2:13
  • "Caravan" Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol– 3:43
  • "The Story of Grandmere" – 4:08
  • "Vianne Confronts the Comte" – 1:21
  • "Chocolate Sauce" – 0:48
  • "Other Possibilities" – 1:34
  • "Fire" – 2:37
  • "Main Titles" – 3:07
  • "Ashes to the Wind / Roux Returns" – 2:18
  • "Taste of Chocolate" – 3:08
  • "Boycott Immorality" – 4:38
  • "Vianne Sets Up Shop" – 1:57
  • "Party Preparations" – 1:28
  • "Vianne Gazes at the River" – 1:06
  • "Three Women" – 1:01
  • "Mayan Bowl Breaks" – 2:14
  • "Guillaumes Confession" – 1:29
  • "Passage of Time" – 2:32