Chocolat (PG-13) - 2000 - Runtime: 121 minutes
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: Lasse Hallström
To quote one of my favorite movies from this year, this movie was just delightful. It would have been only made better if I watched it with some wine and summer salad! But seriously, folks, it was a sweet and delightful movie. But don't let that movie poster fool y'alls - Johnny Depp really isn't a big part of the movie. Sure, he shows up (as a pirate! I bet this is where Bruckheimer saw his potential as flamboyant booty hunter) halfway through the movie, sashaying his way into Juliette Binoche's heart, but it's hardly a big role. But Depp is dreamy and he sells tickets, so whatevs.
For those who managed to skip this delight - Juliette Binoche plays Vianne, a somewhat mysterious and fantastical woman who opens up a chocolate shop in a small, conservative French village. It soon becomes apparent her concoctions are just what this sleepy town needed. Lots of people start living - L-I-V-I-N - living! But some people like to be oppressed, like the local minister (Alfred Molina - playing another nefarious villain - seriously, this is where Raimi decided Molina would make a good Doc Ock - I mean, the roles are practically interchangeable here), who takes charge to try and banish Vianne from his town that he used to have control over. It's a good movie - there's a bit of fantasy to the story and it's something that I really like. Vianne brings such magic and energy to the town and it's fun to see how she changes people's lives.
The performances are wonderful - especially Binoche. I wish she would do more American movies - she's a great actress and I loved her in The English Patient, too. She creates such a wonderful character that at times, is very enigmatic and at other times very honest and open. She balances those two traits wonderfully and when the love of her life shows up - a somewhat subdued Johnny Depp - she becomes a whole different person. And it's that struggle between who she's born to be and what she wants to be that is at the heart of this story.
Like I said, it's a delight and if you haven't been delighted in a while, you should really rent this one. Seriously, delightful.
Rating: Rent It!