Imagine a sumptuous piece of Godiva Chocolate on an upcoming spring eve, vicariously fleeing to a small really pretty French town with Juliette Binoche or your new or not so new beau. And you’ll learn something about chocolate every time you watch the now classic film Chocolat.
Have you packed your bags yet? The Academy Award winning film, Chocolat isn’t just a story-line about chocolate, but about chocolate and how it connects people. People who are noble and old, very young, people who just can’t wait around for a better life or people who abstain from life’s fleeting pleasures with a vengeance, including chocolate.
Wanderlust (the word is German in origin) and chocolate go to together. Binoche’s character Vianne is perpetually seeking a new life for her and her six-year old daughter. By the way, there’s also a wonderful little back story of the author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris, her young daughter and Binoche when the three first met before the making of the film.
Quite unexpected Binoche shows up at Harris’s front door to meet her and talk about the book for filming. Binoche ends up staying for the weekend sleeping in Harris’s daugther’s bedroom. Binoche returns the favor by inviting the daugther to her academy award ceremony.
In the film, Vianne’s also a woman who knows how to pay the bills in a pinch by making some of the best chocolate that anyone can dream about. She makes chocolate with milk, chocolate with chilli peppers, chocolate with secrets and chocolate with lots of love. She makes chocolate so well, for a few its evocative of happy sex, lost romance and open communication.
Perhaps the most enduring story within a story in Best Picture of 2000, is the relationship that unfolds between a Grandmother played by the masterful Judi Dench and her Grandson who seeks her out like a really good peice of chocolate. Not to give the story away, the film is worth seeing if for this story alone (a few small deliciously dialogued scenes) that really do point to the power of a person armed with chocolate to mend relations.
Of course there’s a central love story. Two people who have insatiable wanderlust; Vianne, who’s literally got it in her blood and Roux, played by the fabulous Johnny Depp who’s always on the move by his occupation and who almost instantly falls for a woman who owns a chocolate shop with seductive displays, wonderful bowls for mixing, interesting visitors, humor and open windows that temp the town’s most frigid.
Learning to make chocolate as taught by the character Vianne, also heals the physically abused. As a woman in the small provincial town seeks refuge from an abusive husband, Vianne gives her a shot at making chocolate and its as if her practice of the process of creating the confection, mirrors her own process of personal renewal and end to a bad marriage.
Not enough can be said about the film’s scenes that include chocolate and or references to it. Clearly, the film emerges from a good history of chocolate going back to the time of the Aztecs when the spicy liquid was only available to upper crust society. But this story about chocolate is truly about the universality of it and its wonderul capacity for party-making. And there’s a party and you don’t want to miss in this film. Don’t forget your pantry’s best supply of chocolate available. Before watching you might have time to check out Sacramento Arden Fair’s Godiva seasonal choices.