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Film Review: Chocolat

Revealing the necessity for the worlds most indulgent food

The movie “Chocolat ” portrays what is perhaps humanity’s most beloved sweet as humanity’s ultimate transformative and healing power.  Eating chocolate, as the movie shows, is not an indulgence worthy of sin.  On the contrary, tasting chocolate is an inclusion of jubilance and self-actualization essential to the nourishment of life.

Juliette Binoche stars in the film as Vienne, a single mother who follows the wind, traversing villages of Europe with her daughter Anouk to share her recipes that will remedy the soul. The film begins as Vienne and her daughter arrive in a small hilltop village blending into the French countryside.  With admirable alacrity and efficient skill, she soon opens the Chocolaterie Maya in the town square.  A chocolate shop: the perfect addition to any community.  Except, perhaps, a community where all the inhabitants of the town are reserved, pious Catholics observing the doctrine to fast during Lent.  However, Vienne seems convinced she has settled her shop in precisely the town in deepest need of a touch of decadence.  So let the transformative potency of chocolate release its magic.

The movie, narrated through Anouk’s reminiscent adult eyes, mixes perspicacious humor, and adorable relationships with the drama of relinquishing the self to previously repressed yearnings. The story shares a message of embracing others despite their outward differences.  But more centrally, the film aims to tell us that satisfying our own souls through what may appear like indulgence is simply including a touch of the most necessary ingredient for discovering happiness.

Chocolate lightens moods, satisfies desires, awakens sleeping ambitions, and enlivens spirits.   At times during the film, this magical, soul-healing essence to cacao seems highly extraordinary.  On a closer look, though, it may just be the generosity and veracity of Vienne’s gesture to give the villagers their favorite chocolate that effects the most powerful conversions of all.

A final interpretation from the film: a person is often like a chocolate truffle:  on the exterior, a predictably appealing creation of a mold, but rather rigidly shapely; inside, an airy, sensational blend that flows into an original form with unparalleled sweetness and surprise.  Vienne expertly knows truffles and her story enlightens the audience.

In the movie, literally one taste of Vienne’s chocolate and the source of all sorrows is recognized and simultaneously a will to escape those melancholies bursts from the taste buds to the heart and mind.

One taste of this movie and you’ll want to embrace its warming message and melt in enjoyment.  And of course, you’ll want a bite of chocolate.

– Jenny White

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