Daily Chick Flick: Chocolat  

You don't have to know me very well to discern that I'm pro-chocolate, anti-church, and extremely fond of gratuitous nudity. Why then, was I left feeling as if there were unfinished business at the end of Chocolat? Is it because the gratuitous nudity was nothing more than 2 seconds of silhouetted side-boob? Perhaps the chocolate didn't strike quite as appealing when the central character of the movie -- the woman who made all of the chocolate -- neglected to even eat any of it on camera? More probable than both of those is that the movie built me up to expect really cool things from what I thought were really cool characters, only to have them do exactly what I thought they would.

Chocolat is set in the late 50's French village of Reynaud, where one day Juliette Binoche and her young daughter come strutting into town out of nowhere and open up chocolate shop. Too bad that Lent just started and the village is uber-Catholic. Or is it? She does after all make some irresistible shit, and is the only woman around that doesn't wear black shoes (for shame!). So after figuratively pissing in the village's holy water, a few of them slowly start to come around, including her landlord, played by none other than Dame Judi Dench. Leave it to Dench to overexert her acting talents by playing a bitchy old woman who "does things her own way." Johnny Depp also strolls into the film halfway through, as the cleanest-cut guy to ever live full-time on a boat. As expected, the further the movie progresses, the more Binoche's character stirs up the village's rigid morality, to the point that something has to give. Which it does. And then the movie ends approximately three minutes later.

I'll be honest and say that I really did like parts of this film. Alfred Molina is a great actor, and I secretly want to be best friends with Johnny Depp so we can share each other's tattered jeans and oversized leather bracelets. The story did have some endearing parts as well. I found myself wanting things to work out for the ancillary characters. As much as we were led to believe that Molina was a complete dick as the village mayor, you just knew that he wasn't the bad guy. In fact, I kind of liked that this movie didn't have a well-defined antagonist. Except for Jesus of course, who some would agree is the ultimate antagonist.

Did you know this movie was nominated for the best picture Oscar in 2001? Better still, had you not known that before watching this movie would you have guessed it? I sure as hell wouldn't have. My theory is that the Academy had already fingered Gladiator as the winner, leading them to just throw in a bunch of junk films so nobody would even try to question them. I mean, c'mon. Erin Brockovich? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Because Chinese people sword fighting across bamboo and Julia Roberts playing someone trashy had never been done before.

Taking a couple of steps back to look at this movie as a whole, I won't argue that I found it far more tolerable than most of the other stuff I've watched thus far. Though I still contend that it could have used more of an ending. Nonetheless, the performances were engaging, the story was different (albeit predictable), and I'm afraid that if I give it anything more than 2 1/2 pink tacos, Johnny Depp might never show me the only possible way to tie a bandana around your head that doesn't make you look like a complete douche.

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