I walked into this film expecting a film screaming to be held next to LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE.... and I knew there was no way it could even begin to compare.
I was right.... because this is not LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE and never pretends to be. It is its own film. For some strange reason it felt closer to movies like DON JUAN DEMARCO and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK... I suppose it is because of the light romantic nature that these films toy with.
The film begins with two little red riding hoods arriving into a small European town in an undistinguishable year... I suppose it happens once upon a time, after the great war but before now.
There is a great deal of passion and love in the film... Gorgeous to behold... everything seems to radiate energy and life... Especially all that come into contact with the magic of the Chocolatarie.
How many times are we told that Chocolate is an instrument of the devil? We describe its taste as being sinful. Why? Is something so good automatically a pull-string to hell? If so, why be a part of a religion that preaches such rhetoric. Seriously, who wants to go to a heaven where Elvis and Chocolate are not allowed?
While chocolate and its magical properties are at the center of the film, I took much of this to be a metaphor for all things we enjoy and are condemned by religion en masse.
Throughout the film, wonderful performances are aplenty. From the little girl and little boy... to Alfred Molina and Juliette Binoche.... to Johnny Depp and Lena Olin..... to Judi Dench and Hugh O'Conor and Carrie-Anne Moss and Peter Stormare.... Watching them interact... perform and live and breathe is just a joy.
The concept of the church deciding to take on CHOCOLATE as a sin.... well, it is like the church coming down on any food or plant or substance as being the instrument of the devil. It is this hypocrisy that drives so many from religion initially. Watching Molina craft the sermons to validate his own personal hang ups and problems... watching the condemning of others by 'good christians'... well, this is a satire. The film takes the position that the church would side up against Chocolate... An enemy that no government or religion would ever dare take on. THEY'D LOSE!
Chocolate beats all other motivational forces. Chocolate helps heal relationships gone astray.... helps bring a smile to a saddened face... Chocolate brings out the sunshine, and there is no power on planet earth that can stand against it.
A test? Go buy the most delectable hunk of freshly made chocolate. Sit in a room with it.... alone. Have a staring contest with the bar. Tell it that you won't eat it... that you have a stronger will.... that you won't be dictated at by chocolate! Go on... Tell yourself you'll fall asleep before eating it. Leave the light on. Look at it. Can't you taste it.... that... chocolate taste... strange wonderful chemicals racing across your brain... a tingle down your spine.... Ohhhhhh.... chocolate.
At some levels this is a light film about chocolate... on more metaphorical levels... it is about all that is forbidden yet brings smiles. That which pleasures another and your place in condemning it.
From start to finish, CHOCOLAT is everything it should be.... tasty.