Some things are just made to go together. Just like chocolate and wine, Paul McGuire and Movie Reviews are perfectly matched for each other! I know you’re going to love Paul’s review of the classic foodie movie; Chocolat. I hope it inspire’s you to throw a Chocolat Party!
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, and
The season of Lent brings reflection, tranquility, and fasting to a small French village. Vianne (Binoche) and her daughter Anouk move in to the village in hopes of starting a new business. Mystery builds around this new resident and what is hiding behind the covered windows of this new shop. Opening day arrives to find that Vianne has opened a quaint chocolate store filled with a variety of sweet treats. The village mayor, Comte Paul de Reynaud (Molina), opposes this idea of opening a chocolate shop during Lent as it proves too tempting during this time of fasting. Vianne claims her specialty is finding just the right piece of chocolate for each person. Like any good chocolatier, she treats chocolate like therapy offering it to any person that seems down or disgruntled. The mayor’s backlash is spreading to people in the village and people are turning away at Vianne’s offerings.
Time passes and business slowly starts to take off. Vianne takes a battered woman (Lena Olin) in and gives her work at the shop teaching her everything she needs to know about making decadent treats. Roux (Depp) is known by the townsfolk as a “river rat”. He comes to town as a vagabond looking for work. Being the friendly jovial lady that she is, Vianne welcomes him to town and allows him to do some carpentry work on the building structure of the store. A passionate connection saves their lives from a fire one evening. The chocolate and passion Vianne has brings the community out from their slumbers. The town seems to be growing up from its old stuffy ways stuck in its burdensome traditions.
Chocolat is a sweet little movie that is perfect for a dreary rainy day or a fun foodie movie night. The characters are always drinking hot chocolate which is also a perfect treat on a rainy day. The plot is fairly simple, but the endearing characters give the movie a lot of heart and warmth. One of the key thoughts in Chocolat is that you should not deny yourself some of the good things in life from time to time even if they are guilty pleasures. Chocolate can be angerous for those with a wicked sweet teeth. I include myself in that category. It is rare for me to turn down a piece of dark chocolate, especially if sea salt or cayenne is mixed in. Johnny Depp is one of the great actors working today. He can be a true character actor or a simple down to earth gentleman. As of late, we are used to seeing him as a pirate or a crazy character in a Tim Burton movie. It is always a pleasure to see him take on a more realistic role that doesn’t need a wig or elaborate make-up design to go with it. Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, The Shipping News) directs the movie which is based on a novel by Joanne Harris. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including acting nominations for Juliette Binoche and Judi Dench.
We went to a wine tasting party a couple of weeks ago that was highly enjoyable. The idea was to bring in a South American wine and there would be a tasting contest. All of the bottles were lined up with a number on them. You voted for your favorite red and white wine. It was a fantastic way to try new varieties and really get a sense of the taste and feel of them without knowing the brand or grape used. I think the same thing could be done for a chocolate party. A spin on that would be to try throwing a Chocolat party. It would be a chocolate tasting party for some friends while watching the movie. Everyone could bring a new recipe or an old favorite. Everyone could nibble as the movie is playing and once the movie is over you could vote on who had the best
recipe. You could have prizes for overall winner, most daring use of chocolate or most creative recipe. I loved to hear your thoughts if you’ve seen the movie or have hosted a chocolate tasting party before. Feel free to leave your comments below!
Paul McGuire; Professional Actor & Movie Critic