Chocolate (2000)

CHOCOLAT is a game-cast, storybook-set, and, well, colorfully dull 
drama about a repressed French village-- circa 1959-- that comes 
all unglued when a free-spirited, free-speaking, single mother-of-
one arrives in town and opens, gasp!, a chocolate shop.  And dur-
ing Lent, no less!  And and (that's and times two) who soon raises 
the ire of the town's pleasure-phobic mayor.  Conflict ensues, as 
does an explosion of assorted other emotions among the cocoa-con-
suming townsfolk.  The confectionary instigator is played by Juli-
ette Binoche, AKA The Loveliest Women in the World, with a fiery 
bounce beneath her and those beautiful brown (brown?) eyes beaming 
above blush-red cheeks.  (If there's a more breathtaking presence 
on-screen this season...)  Other familiar favorites include Lena 
Olin as a skittish kleptomaniac (that's French for "person with 
sticky fingers"), Judi Dench as the cranky landlord, and Johnny 
Deep, appearing later as Someone Who Figures Into the Plot.  The 
role of the mayor and arguable villain of the piece is played by 
Alfred Molina and he's probably miscast.  Lest we forget, this is 
the guy who was last seen (or at least *recently* seen) playing 
Snidely Whiplash opposite Brendan Fraser's DUDLEY DO-RIGHT.  (I 
know, and Robert DeNiro played Fearless Leader in this summer's 
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.  And your point is?)  The problem here is 
that Molina's thin, thick 'brows and moustache-- coupled with his 
half-hamminess and *absolute* lack of gravity-- renders the vet-
eran actor looking and acting like a cross between Hercule Poirot 
and Inspector Clouseau.  Needless to say, he's hard to take seri-
ously.  Worse, he isn't even mildly hissable!  This dramatic non-
weight is, alas, echoed through; scene after scene missing some 
necessary, tangible, propulsive emotion behind it.  Sigh.  Well, 
my mom liked it.  And the soft photography and storybook-looking 
production design are (initially) distracting.  I left after for-
ty-five, lackluster minutes.  With Victoire Thivisol, Hugh O' Con-
or, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Ms. Bjork's recent singin' and dancin' 
partner, Peter Stormare.  Lasse Hallstrom, of CIDER HOUSE RULES 
fame, directs.  Robert Nelson Jacobs is credited with the scre-
enplay, based on the novel by Joanne Harris.  (Rated "PG-13"/120 

Grade: W/O

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Chocolat

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros