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Chocolat (DVD)

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      22.05.2010 08:15
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      Great film, recommended.

      LLike many women I would happily bare the love child of Johnny Depp and that opinion does not change after watching this film even if he does have a rather dodgy accent in it, for me the Depster can do no wrong.

      Set at the end of the 1950's in rural France it tells the story of Vianne, a young single mother who is played by Juliette Bonoche. Along with her daughter Anouk she sets up a chocolaterie which seems to have an impact on the locals however she also faces some opposition especially from the pious Mayor of the village the Comte Paul de Reynaud played by Alfred Molina who vows to force her out of business and out of vthe village. The third central character is a gypsey called Roux played by Depp who provides a love interest for her and another enemy for Reynaud.

      I love this film, it has some wonderfully light comic moments and the whole plot is rather surreal and a bit different, the thought that types of chocolates can influence peoples lives in such a way is quite original and also amusing. Visually it is a beautiful film both because of the scenery and of course our Mr Depp.

      The acting is superb in this film, Binoche is so convincing in the lead role as a passionate independent woman, Molina is excellent as the plotting mayor and also Judi Dench pops up as a bossy old woman in the film in a delightful little role. Depp is perfect as the roguish traveller however his attempt at an Irish accent is not that convincing, bit too much pirate in it for me.

      It is not often I mention the music in a film but it is worth a mention in this film as it really does help both the atmosphere of the film and on a couple of occasions serves to introduce moments of comedy.

      I would certainly recommend this film as it is a wonderfully entertaining film and well worth watching. Available on Amazon for £2.99.

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        06.04.2010 13:27
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        Does life get any better than chocolate and Johnny Depp?

        ***Chocolat***

        ***Is This Film just About Chocolate Then?***

        Being Easter and all, it seems only right that I dust this film down off the shelf and give it an outing. Not that Easter is just about chocolate. This is the quirky film based upon the novel by Joanne Harris. It is directed by Lasse Hallström, who is perhaps best known for directing many Abba videos. It tells the story of Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), a young unmarried mother who moves to the fictional village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes (fictional).The year is 1959 and Vianne and her daughter Anouk, open a chocolaterie - something that does not go down to well, as they arrive during Lent. She encourages people to try her concoctions, recommending specific flavours depending upon the person. Soon, the lives of the people begin to change for the better as they confront their demons and make decisions that they would never had dared to before.

        However, there is one person in the village who is not happy with her arrival - Comte Paul de Reynaud(Alfred Molina) the village mayor. He is a chaste man and begins to see it as a personal challenge to drive her out. He warns her that she will be out of business by Easter. Reynaud is also unhappy because it appears his wife is on an extended vacation with no sign of return. The mayor warns Vianne that she will be out of business by Easter.

        This is also a romance film - enter Johnny Depp as a travelling gypsy Roux. Vianne is drawn to him, but being a loner and traveller herself, she tries to steer clear of him. The mayor is now beside himself as he has to contend with not only Vianne, but also the travelling band of gypsies. Will the mayor get his way in the end?

        ***My Thoughts Of This Film***

        This film is a good example of one of those quirky films that just doesn't fit into any category. At times it is funny, touching and I really like the narrator style telling parts of the story as we go along. It does have a dash of romance, but it is subtle and not in your face, as you might expect from a film Johnny Depp appears in. I am a fan of most films Depp has been in, simply because they usually are a bit quirky, even those that appeal to the mainstream audience. The setting is spot on and it perfectly captures the atmospheric feel of a post war French village.

        It is a gentle story and all the sub plots of the various characters are skillfully woven together to tell the story as a whole. It is not a film that will blow your socks off, it is a gentle tale that will make you smile from time to time and feel warm inside. I particularly enjoyed the scene when there is a party dinner and the guests are served what looks like melted chocolate instead of gravy. A clarinet plays to groans of pleasure and it kind of one step down from the famous Meg Ryan "I'll have what she's having! scene", in when Harry Met Sally.

        This is a film where the music and soundtrack is key. From the atmospheric clarinet and violin pieces to the guitar pieces (a bonus is a couple of these are played by Depp himself), it all fits perfectly together. In fact, I am sure the main soundtrack song is used by Marks and Spencer in their ads - please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

        The movie explored themes of being an outsider and prejudice. Religion is also featured as the Mayor more or less controls the impressionable young priest and directs his sermons for him. So issues such as abstinence and self denial are also looked at. I really liked the portrayal of the young priest (haven't seen this actor in anything else) and the banter between the two of these characters was fun to watch.
        Juliette Binoche was fabulous in this as she is in most things. She came across as both vulnerable, whilst having an air of independence too. She played someone not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and the chemistry with Depp was subtle but truly believable. Some of the best scenes were those not containing any dialogue at all. Depp only came into the story part way through, but what a presence! Not too sure about his Irish accent, but certainly got part of loner down to a tee. This film was also great because it had a wonderul supporting cast. Judy Dench played a cantankerous old woman. Carrie-Anne Moss (from The Matrix) her estranged daughter. All of these people had a story to tell and interacted wonderfully. All in all a fine cast, with some very funny moments thrown in too.

        ***Bonus Features***

        These include:

        *The making of Chocolat (This was really worth watching as there were interviews with all the actors explaining how they approached the roles)
        *Audio Commentary (Only with the director and producers - no Johnny Depp - sorry!)

        *The Costumes of Chocolat

        *Production Design Featurette

        *Deleted scenes (In one of the scenes Depp had curly hair - SOOO glad they got rid of that and went with the eventual hairstyle of ponytail. )
        The film was nominated for 5 oscars and 8 BAFTAS - although it didn't win in any of it's categories. Compared to the film I reviewed last (2012) (although it was a different type of film I admit) the difference in storytelling and characterisation is amazing. In this film you cared about what happened to the people in it.

        ***Availability***

        Now ten years old, the film is available for £4.99. The film runs for 117 minutes and is a certificate 12.

        I heartily recommend this film - does life get any better than chocolate and Johnny Depp?

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          17.12.2009 17:54
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          A woman changes the village with her chocolat

          I had been wanting to watch this for long-primarily for Johny Depp. Directed by Lasse Hallström, the principal character is played by french actress Juliette Binoche(Blue,1994).
          Vianna and her kid daughter move their home from place to place and their latest stop is a small French village. The people of the village has its own rules,the people there has certain mindset; the church plays a big role in keeping the villagers united and the mayor of the village believes in discipline and uses the church's authority to keep things under strict order. Vianna's 'unmarried mother' status is tagged as indecent and her plan of opening a chocolate shop is touted as an evil idea since she will lure people to eat sweets and indulge in worldly pleasures.
          The story is original in terms of its content, who could have thought a rebellious character can take the form of a chocolate selling lady!I loved the way Vianna becomes an influential figure in the village making personal relations with a few characters, giving them the support they need to live a much fuller life. Her giving shelter to the much needed women in the society is another strength of the film. The film does have a strong point which it poses across audiences; Vianna's character is shown to do good to the society in her own way, a society which is made up of people who dare to live life their own way and is scared about certain apprehensions.
          I thought the film was good,but not very good. Yes, it has a strong point but what beyond that? The film is stuck with the same plot and you know where it is heading. Another disappointment was the absence of Johny Depp. I actually thought it would be a romantic film but was shocked to see how short Depp's screen space was. Depp comes in as one of the travelling persons who face rejection from the villagers only to be warmly accepted by Vianne.
          Juliette Binoche has a certain intriguing nature to her which I love! Her act is a treat, she is perfect for this role. For some reason I found her attires(dressed in dark blues and dark reds) add a certain charm to the character of Vianne.
          This is a good film but I probably expected more!

          Rating:3+/5

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          19.07.2009 22:12
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          I'll have some of what she's making!

          Sunday afternoons involve ironing - a chore that I put off all week if I possibly can. Recently I have got into the routine of doing the ironing while watching one of the many DVDs that come my way, that I haven't had time to sit down and watch.

          This week it was the turn of Chocolat. I had previously read the book, written by Joanne Harris, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and had not seen the film before. If it is a film that is based on a book, I try to read the book first so I can build up my own pictures of what I am reading, rather than see the film and then try and fit the film scenes into the book. This does mean, however, that sometimes the film seems very different to the book, and occasionally I am left very disappointed.

          As a result, I always try and watch these films with an open mind.

          Chocolat is set in a small French village in 1959. The village is traditional, and every day seems the same - routine and tradition being the order of the day. Residents are generally governed by the Catholic Church, and life revolves around the Church and its calendar and its teachings.

          Then one day, Vianne and her daughter arrive and set up a chocolate shop. Suddenly the grey village has a bit of colour about it, but not without problem. Vianne is an unmarried mother - shock horror! Something that we take for granted nowadays as being quite ordinary, was anything but in 1959, so she is instantly frowned upon. She also does not attend church - choosing to allow others to believe, but never committing herself, again going against what most people in the village see as being right. Vianne is opening a chocolate shop at the beginning of Lent - instantly seen as something that goes against the Godliness of the village people, and finally she makes friends with a visiting group of "river folk", when other residents are trying to make it perfectly clear that these people are not wanted.

          Vianne is perhaps a bit of a rebel. Or perhaps she is just her own person.....she gradually introduces people to the wonderful properties of her handmade chocolates - with often quite astonishing results! Aphrodisiac qualities prove very popular as people discover that life can be a bit more exciting than it was before! Vianne certainly introduces colour into this place!

          This is a beautiful film, with many underlying messages and stories - temptation, tradition, strong minded women, learning to deal with a lack of tolerance, ignorance and change. Many of these issues are just as prevalent in 2009 as in 1959 - in many ways things have not changed much in 50 years.....

          It is not a comedy, but it certainly has some little comedy moments - subtle, but definitely there, and worth keeping your eyes open for, or watching the film a second time to see if you can pick them up!

          The cast is fantastic, Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Dame Judy Dench head the line up with many wonderful supporting actors and actresses around them. Such a line up means that you expect something good......and something good is what you get.

          There is no doubt, when you are watching it, that you are in France, but some of the accents are very un-French. Mind you, I would prefer to hear a non-French accent than a poor phoney French accent, and the lack of accents did not detract from this well directed film.

          I thoroughly enjoyed ironing along to this film. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film, I am not sure I thoroughly enjoyed the ironing, and I would definitely watch it again. It is one to be enjoyed on a wet Sunday afternoon, or a cold autumn evening, with the fire on, and the biscuit barrel nearby.

          With chocolate and Johnny Depp featuring heavily, this is definitely one for the girls......I don't think my husband would have been so keen on sitting through it, and would probably have fallen asleep.

          The DVD has extras such as "behind the scenes" and "deleted scenes". I did quite enjoy watching these as they gave lots of insight into the director's thoughts on the book and the film, as well as some good interviews with the main cast members. But they were spoilt by a really harsh American voice-over that just tried to be too "Hollywood" for my liking!

          Rated 12, and running for 117 minutes, this is a perfect length for a week's worth of ironing!

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            03.03.2009 00:13
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            Very well adapted film

            Chocolat is a beautifully woven tale from the pen of Joanne Harris (novel-1999) adapted for the screen and directed by Swede Lasse Halstrom. It is set in a small French village where religion and order are highly respected, and features the disturbance of this order and pits tolerant indulgence against extremist beliefs.

            In a small French town, the Mayor, the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), is seen as the moral leader as well as the official head. The arrival of Vianne (Juliette Binoche), who opens up a chocolaterie in the middle of Lent, stirs up immediate resentment, and winds up pitting the two against each other, with control of the town swaying from one to the other. As reynaud preaches the so-called blasphemous and satanic indulgences of Vianne, the pure delicacy and gorgeousness of the chocolate makes everyone want to try it, no matter the consequences.

            Vianne and her daughter Anouk just want to be able to settle and express their passion for chocolate, and just when this struggle seems to almost overtake them, along comes gypsy Roux (Johnny Depp), and the town's disapproving look shifts its gaze to him and his folk. This is a tale of gentle persuasion, and Vianne hopes to swing everyone round to tolerance if not acceptance.

            The film is very well made. I wasn't too sure how I would receive it, but I was very impressed. The plot was marvellous and intriguing, and really really makes you want to eat chocolate. But it is perhaps the subtle and effective acting that makes it great. Bincohe owns the screen with her gentle expressions, and I think Praskipark (a great Johnny Depp fan on here) hit the nail on the head when describing her acting as knowing exactly how to make the small facial expressions count more than anything else.

            Depp is marvellous, although he doesn't appear until quite late into the film. His Irish lilt is very good on the whole, and his charisma shines through. Alfred Molina is a very good 'villain', if indeed this word should be used. He is merely sticking to his beliefs, extreme though they may seem at times, and is unaffected by the stubborn Vianne. Molina gives the character a certain upper air, and it is in fine contrast to some wonderful performances from Judi Dench, Lena Olin and Carrie Ann Moss. The remainder of the cast also do very well.

            I really liked this film. I imagined I would be bored, but the curiosity and intrigue do win you over, and the clever filming and good use of light hearted music make you want to carry on and find out more. I wasn't bored for a second during the film, and enjoyed every minute of it. One thing is for certain - it will certainly make you want to eat chocolate!

            Chocolat is currently available from amazon.co.uk for around the £3 mark. The DVD I have doesn't have any extras.

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              20.01.2009 01:17
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              A great film for all you women out there...and probably you men too!!

              I actually watched this film again after writing a review on it on here, so I am going to re-write the review!!

              Chocolat is set in a small town in France, where Church is a very important part of everyday life. But when Vienne and Anuka her young daughter show up in the town to open a Chocolate shop during lent, the dynamics of the town changes!

              Vienne and Anuka are travellers, they travel with the "wind", and move from town to town, mainly after Vienne has had her way with some kind of man. Anuka is a love child, of a man they don't know, following in the footsteps of Vienne and her mother.

              Vienne is a master Chocolatier, and rents a Patiesserie from an old batty woman, who she later befriends, the locals are taught by the Mayor of the town not to trust Vienne, and not to go anywhere near her shop, but, some of them stray and enter the shop to feel the magic of her chocolate.

              One woman who is unsatisfied by her husband comes in and buys some chocolate to enhanceher sex life...she is sceptical, but when her husband finds the chocolate....they rekindle their marriage in thebest of ways.

              A young woman whose husband beats her, turns to Vienne for help and ends up leaving her husband and living in the small flat above the shop with the mother and daughter, and works with them, she slowly comes out of her shell, and learns she is her own woman and doesn't have to do all her husband tells her...much to the dismay of the Mayor!!!!!

              One day, a group of gypsies on boats ("river rats" as they're known to locals) make home at the river side, they locals have a prtest of "boycott imorality", but Vienne befriends one of them Roux, falling slowly for him, they're both travellers and so have something in common. She starts been his friend to get at the Mayor, but then she begins to like him and his friends.

              I don't want to spoil the film for you, cause it really is worth a watch, and so much happens that it would be hard to tell you everything without ranting and confusing you!!!

              The story is beautiful, and really makes you think about your beliefs and the things that lead to you in life. The film is sexy and delishiously shot.
              With the most amazing of characters played by equally delightful actors (Johnny Depp, Judy Dench and a whole bunch of others!!)

              The film is romantic and beautiful, it gives you such a warm feeling inside when you watch it, you really feel for the characters especially Vienne and Anuka when rumours are spread by the mayor and they risk losing their customers.
              But you know everything will work out well for them!!

              There are a few ups and downs, but in the end, there is happiness! :-)
              I recommend this to any Johnny Depp fan, any romance fan, any chocolate fan!! Pretty much...any woman!!!
              I think even men would love this film (secretly probably!!)

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                03.01.2009 14:35
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                Good film but not really got lasting appeal

                This is a lovely little romantic film all based around chocolate. What more could you ask for!

                The basic story goes that a young woman and her daughter want to go about setting up a chocolate shop, however all the residents of the village where she decides to set it up are totally against this and think the idea is from the enemy. Basically as the film unfolds, the owner of the chocolate shop tries to convert more and more people to her way of thinking and to her chocolate, however she has to overcome a number of hurdles to become successful.

                This is a really nice film but it is quite slow. It covers many different themes including domestic violence, the gypsy life, religion and romance.

                If you have never seen this film it is definately worth watching once but I wouldn't recommend buying it for your dvd collection as in my personal opinion, it does not have lasting appeal!

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                  25.11.2008 18:16
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                  Chocolat is a very interesting film about a chocolate maker Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche). She is a single mother who seems to have a mission of touching people's lives with chocolate. However, she wasn't very welcome in this conservative town she moved in with her daughter, Anouk. Opening the chocolatery at the beginning of the lent season was not acceptable to the people of this town.

                  This story is almost like a fairy tale and like chocolate to a womans heart it melt all your defenses with the arrival of a handsome pirate, (Johnny Depp). It wasn't the pirate that I was expecting, bad, mean and dirty, this one is totally the opposite kind.
                  On the eve of a celebration, Vianne would have to decide whether to leave the village or stay when she almost lost Anouk from a fire started by one of the villagers in the pirates camp.

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                    24.08.2008 15:37
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                    A Magical Film

                    Based on a novel written by Joanne Harris in 1999 Chocolat is a comic fable about how just one taste of life's pleasures can change a person, a relationship and a town. It is a tale of temptation, repression and the liberating powers of the senses, a comedic story of an escalating town war, sparked by the passions and fears aroused by the arrival of a mysterious chocolate shop.

                    At the heart of the story is Vianne Rocher,(Juliette Binochet) a woman possessed with special powers who arrives in the French village of Lansquenet, following the north wind. By her side is her six year old daughter, Anouk(Victoire Thivisol) who also possesses the same powers. Vianne's aim is to open a chocolaterie purveying luscious chocolates that can, in addition to tantalising the tongue, cure lost hopes and awaken unexpected emotions. Her effect on the village is immediate and extraordinary, the elderly find themselves re-experiencing young love, troubled couples regain their spark and sniping neighbours become happy friends.

                    But Vianne's sumptuous chocolates also arouse something else - an escalating battle between passion and moral indignation. As some in the village begin to let go, others clamp down, led by the righteous Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), who also declares Vianne to be the public enemy. Just as she is about to raise the white flag the arrival of Roux (Johnny Depp), a rough and tumbled stranger arrives on the scene. He is a vagabound who has a great passion for Django Reindhardt and steel guitar blues. He seduces Vianne with his Irish charm, twinkle in his eye and the fact that no matter how hard she tries she can't guess his favourite chocolate. This unexpected romance forces her to choose between leaving her hostile surrouindings or making a true difference to the townsfolk.

                    In this film the characters are full of contradictions and therefore come alive and enter our hearts. The heroine of the story is Vianne, a truly free spirit but at the same time a prisoner of her destiny. Her nemesis, the Comte de Reynaud, appears in control but is a prisoner to his sense of tradition. He looks through the town and sees sinners and failures. Vianne sees only human beings with flaws that might be forgiven. Vianne's character is the centre of the story and she stands for tolerance, kindness and free spiritedeness.

                    In my view Juliette Binochet was able to capture these qualities as she is always emotionally present in the scenes. She respects the camera and knows just how little you need to convey an emotion. She is so beautiful and deep - you can't help but love her. This part was very different from her other roles and I personally think she was able to expand in this role.

                    Johnny Depp plays the romantic lead role. Although he was only on screen for about 15 or 16 minutes he brought a wonderful presence to the film and a true leading man quality. He is so beautiful to look at in this role and when they are both on screen together I find it just so lovely to watch.

                    Other members of the cast who I thought were exceptional are Judi Dench who plays Armande Voizin, the cantankerous old shop owner/landlady. Alfred Molina as the Comte de Reynaud who is truly pompous and made the character convincing and Lena Olin who plays, Josephine, the beaten wife of the village drunk, Serge Muscat. Although Olin played the mad woman with great depth and character I did find her American accent intrusive and incongruous. In fact the accents generally were a bit of a ragbag with American, British English and 'Allo 'Allo French often sharing lines within the same scene.


                    Other info
                    -------------

                    Directed by Lasse Hallstrom,

                    Screenplay by Robert Nelson.

                    Based on the novel by Joanne Harris

                    Released by Miramax in 2001

                    Cast: Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lena Olin, John Wood, Hugh O' Connor, Peter Stormare, Aurlien Parent-Koeing,, Victoire Thivisol

                    Running Time 2 hours 1 min

                    Rating PG 13

                    Summary
                    ---------------

                    Swedish director, Lasse Hallstrom manages to give this film a multi layered tone, which has the magical essence of a fairy tale but presents a series of characters whose emotions and concerns, from marital mistakes to family dishonesties, are palpably and often humorously real. The script is beautifully written, poetic, funny and very entertaining. It is a movie I have watched several times and each time I am still enchanted by it's beauty.

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                      18.08.2008 12:23
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                      A great movie for mood

                      This movie just screams »passion«.

                      The story is set in the French village Lansquenet where they live a simple old-fashioned life, until a stranger Vianne Rocher played by Juliette Binoche and her daughter arrive and open a chocolate store. Not to forget later on we are introduced to a river rat Roux played by Johnny Deep.

                      This movie is full of emotion but not in that cheeky way. These emotions are more primal, true desire, passion... If this movie will let you emotion less there must be something wrong with you (joke).

                      The story is quite simple but the way it is told and shown it makes it really interesting.

                      The acting is just brilliant, you can almost feel the chemistry and electricity going around main characters it really is believable. Characters around them are really persuasive to. Everything is on its place in this movie, it works in perfect harmony.

                      The music is also brilliant, light and goes with the environment given in the movie perfectly.

                      If you are hungry for love this movie will satisfy your appetites.

                      If you are not, this movie will definitely make you hungry (one way or another).

                      Length: 121 minutes
                      Language: English

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                        13.05.2008 20:58

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                        good entertaining romance and very well acted

                        Simply delicious this chocolat.
                        It starts with a young woman and her daughter moving into a small french village that is steeped in morality. she opens a partisserie which she rents from an old lady. The story line is the usual sort of fairytale love story and fight for survival.
                        After moving into the shop She finds herself in battle with the towns mayor. He runs the town with strict moral codes and nobody seemed to mind until she moved there and introduced the chocolat she became famous for.
                        There is an undercurrent all the way through this film of sexual tension and love interests.
                        She becomes involved in many ways with the people of the small town in France and helps a girl who runs the local hostillery fight off her husband who beats her. She becomes friendly whith this girl and she ends up helping in chocolat shop.
                        Along comes Johnny depp who is a boating gypsy of sorts and causes all sorts of commotion in the village as he is frowned upon by those high up. Shop lady falls in love with him of course who wouldn't and then the fun starts.
                        I loved this film with all the twists and turns in it and the wonderful acting ability of so many famous faces and some not so famous, it was a treat.
                        I found Judi Dench amasing in it and played a remarkable role as the old woman. SO many things I could say about this would spoil the film for you all so I can only say go get it today and see it for yourself all those out there with a romantic streak in you will not be dissapointed.
                        Music was good too.

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                        26.02.2007 21:49
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                        A wonderful film that leaves you on a chocolate induced high!

                        There are some films which seem to be designed entirely to relax our minds, soften our souls, and allow a little comtemplation on the constant flux of life. This, I am happy to say, is exactly one of those films.

                        So French you expect it to be subtitled (though it is not) and so gentle and flowing, you feel as though you are submerged in a warm and scented bubble bath for the most part of the film, there is little by way of negative comment that can be cast over this sumptuous and almost edible film.

                        The story is of a woman and her daughter, and her daughter's pet kangaroo (yes, that's right, kangaroo...) and their way of life, being blown from one place to the next at the grace of the North Wind, to spread the knowledge of the ancient Mayan secrets of cacao. Chocolate to you and me. Finding themselves in a backward French town where the church is everything, and keeping up appearances is more important than passion and love and truth, they persevere to help people see themselves, change themselves and be themselves. I think if I had to pinpoint the most important strand of this film, I would have to say it is the message that people can change, can grow, can develop into better people, new people, passionate people. If they choose to. It's a brilliant film that leaves you with the same rosie afterglow as a good bar of cadbury's dairy milk (straight from the fridge!) and although I've seen it at least four times now, it remains one of my favourite films.

                        Starring the brilliant Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johny Depp and Alfred Molina, and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, from the novel by Joanne Harris, this is a film I have to give 10/10 for. It has everything, from humour (in bucket loads!), to sadness, pain, loss, and what's more, it has chocolate!!!!

                        A must see movie.

                        Thankyou for reading, Kate x

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                          20.11.2006 09:18
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                          A woman and her daughter arrive in a village which is soon to be transformed by their presence

                          I love Chocolate. I love Johnny Depp. Is it possible that you still don't know which way I am leaning with this film?

                          Directed By: Lasse Halstrom
                          Written by: Robert Nelson Jacobs
                          Screenplay by: Joanne Harris
                          Film Length: 117 minutes
                          DVD Release Date: November 2001
                          Classification: 12 certificate
                          RRP: 19.99 (at the time of release)
                          Amazon price: £5.97

                          Leading Actors: (Performances rated by up to 5 stars)
                          Juliette Binoche - Vianne Rocher ****
                          Judi Dench - Armande Voizin *****
                          Johnny Depp - Roux ****
                          Victoire Thivisol - Anouk Rocher ****
                          Alfred Molina - Comte Paul de Reynaud *****

                          DVD Extras
                          Deleted scenes
                          The making of Chocolat
                          Production design featurette
                          The costume of Chocolat
                          Commentary with Director Lass Hallstrom and Producers David Brown Kit Golden and Leslie Holleran

                          The story
                          When a drifting single mother Vianne Rocher moves with her six-year-old daughter Anouk to a conservative, church-going, rural town in France to open a chocolate shop (during Lent) across the street from the local church, they are met with resistance from the townsfolk and particularly from the Comte Paul de Reynaud.

                          For as far back as the town can remember, indulging in the likes of chocolate has been seen as a sin, and for the most part, they have gone about their business resisting the temptation of any such frivolous pleasures. However, as Vianne prepares to open the shop her neighbours begin to take notice and after time the magic of the wares she sells begin to entice them. Wives stock up on her chocolates, which appear to put the spark back in their marriages. Older men come to her for treats to woe their secret loves and children run through the streets with chocolate on their mind.

                          Among the people Vianne touches and forms a close relationship with is Amande Voisin - a stubborn, bitter old woman who no longer has a relationship with her daughter and in turn her grandson. Vianne recognises that not being a part of her grandson's life is causing Amande misery through quite clever methods works to building the relationship up again and encouraging her and her daughter to repair the damage done to the three generations of family.

                          Enter Johnny Depp. Roux, an Irish "River rat" appears along with his gypsy entourage on a boat which they dock at the riverbank of the town. The town are particularly un-welcoming to the travellers, refusing them entry to their shops. Of course Vianne welcomes them openly and soon finds that she has something to learn from the cheeky Irishman. (Johnny does a pretty good job with the accent actually) Roux is a free spirit, never setting down routes. Vianne is also always uprooting her daughter to move but she longs for a stability that she can one day call home. Should that include Roux???

                          Disaster strikes during a birthday party for the ill Armande. The husband of an abused woman Vianne helps escape and gives a job and home to sets fire to one of the boats which Anouk and Amande are on. This is an un-welcoming distraction for Roux and Vianne not least because they are floating away on their own romantic boat ride.

                          I won't ruin the ending or give away too many of the twists and turns, but there are a few to look out for that make this as exciting and suspenseful a film as it is beautiful and magical.

                          Actors/Characters
                          Each and every one of the actors involved in this production give outstanding performances, although you would expect nothing less when the director/producers have chosen such a great cast to begin with.

                          Judi Dench
                          She stands out in this and I would go as far as to say this is her best performance to date. She manages to become the character in a way very few actors seem able too.

                          Juliette Binoche
                          This woman sums up the words dignity and class and she gives a very warm and emotional performance which is difficult to fault.

                          Johnny Depp
                          I couldn't criticise him if I wanted to, but he is fantastic in this film. He manages to pull of an Irish accent fairly admirably and turns his character into a lovable romantic rogue that women and girls from 13 to 130 will fall in love with and men all over will want to be like. He even plays the guitar!

                          Victoire Thivisol
                          We will see a lot more of this wonderfully animated little pixie girl. So often, young actors seem awkward in their surroundings and their performances. She seemed totally at easy throughout the film

                          Alfred Molina
                          Alfred provided the comedy for this film and he did so beautifully. Mixing subtle humour with almost slap-stick humour doesn't often work but he hit the nail on the head with his performance. The perfect balance to fit with the film.

                          Besides those listed above, there are some fantastic performances from all the actors and together, they make the viewer feel a part of the magic of this film - as if we are sharing this little town with them.

                          Cinematography
                          The film holds an almost fairy-tale like quality to it and the cinematography matches this feel perfectly. Gone are the Hollywood sets we are so accustomed to. There are no special effects to speak of or ridiculous sound effects to drown out the heart of the film. It is filmed simply and gently and the scenery nature has so kindly provided the crew of Chocolat is more than capable of keeping the viewer's interest on its own... The party scene at the end is particularly beautifully done.

                          Soundtrack
                          Some gorgeous but understated music which matches the mood of the film perfectly. Keep your ear open for two songs Johnny Depp performs.

                          Overall opinion
                          This is absolutely beautiful film and one I can't even compare to anything else. It is touching, passionate, funny, charming and utterly un-missable. It doesn't get caught up in the plot or even the individual actors too much and seems to invite the viewer into a little dream world if only for a couple of hours. Seeing fairies dancing along the river bank would hardly seem out of place in this innocent, magical, (yes I know I have used that word quite a lot) happy film. When it was over and after I had cried my last heart-felt tear, I felt on top of the world - as if I could do anything because there is goodness and beauty in this world when so often we only see the ugliness. (I know, I know - a bit cheesy)

                          Girls, if you haven't seen it already - go bet it and then take it round to your girlfriends and let them watch it.

                          Boys, the smartest thing you can do is watch this with your girlfriends/wives. It isn't nearly as "foofy" as it probably sounds and you will even enjoy it but more importantly, your partner will be all over you after watching this!

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                            22.04.2006 16:04
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                            French /Drama/Romance that will doubt appeal to many

                            Chocolat is the story of Vianne, a lonely traveller who wonders from place to place with her young daughter Anouk. When they find themselves in s small French town, Vianne decided to open up a chocolatiere, but her small business causes huge ripples throughout the Catholic villagers. Is she some sort of witch? When Vianne starts to make friends with the abused Josephine and persuades her to get away from her aggressive husband people see that as another sign that she is out to make trouble. With the parish leader planning to close her business and Irish travellers entering the town, the residents have to face their morals and ideas head on….

                            Chocolat requires you to suspend your disbelief maybe a little bit too much and for more cynical viewers it may be a torturous cinematic experience; with its mushy romantic edge, rather serendipitous occurrences and the idea that chocolate can change peoples lives. But, if you are prepared to stick with it you will find a gentle, affectionate, warmly crafted little drama/romance which has some pretty important things to say. It’s a story about how good people can make a difference, how nobody deserves to be judged and how a little energy and resourcefulness can change a whole town. It’s an idealist film, but the films pleasures don’t come in its moral messages, or its often blatant button pressing, they come in the small attentions to detail; in its warmness, its life and humanity. The film works as a dream like alternative to the realism that faces the town; this allows the films powerful themes to seep through the sweet vanilla fog that makes up the movie, without tainting the idyllic tales innocence. One of the main selling points of the movie is its French rural setting, which gives the film an intimacy and lightness; the cobbled streets, crooked buildings and fiery villages hark to a part in all of us that wants to get back to the way ‘it was’. I will admit that I was expecting more when I sat down to watch this, and I was a little disappointed that the film didn’t leave a lasting impression, but taken for what it is, it remains a tempting, involving and good natured example of enchanting story telling.

                            The most disappointing thing about Chocolat for me was its inability to make me really feel for its characters, I never felt I was going on a journey with them, rather just watching them travel through their lives. I was very conscious that I was watching a film, and had this nagging feeling throughout that everything was a bit superficial, the film never emerged as truly realistic or ever completely engaging. I just felt it took itself just a step too far into hippy dippy romanticism and the second half lost the reality that made the first hour so entertaining. The problems start to arrive with Depp’s Irish traveller; he changes the dynamic of the story and stops the steady flow the film builds up. This character is badly developed, underwritten and his relationship with Vianne feels contrived and unconvincing. I didn’t care about their romance and found myself much more interested in the fate of Josephine and her friends than Vianne –this didn’t happen when I read the book- which is a shame because up until the half way point she proved to be a most witty and enthralling leading lady. Also the novelty begins to wear a bit thin after a while; there are only so many ways you can use chocolate as a metaphor and the screenplay becomes a bit repetitive and plodding towards the end. However it does reach a pleasing enough conclusion that isn’t very original and extremely predictable but rounds the film off in a pleasant and uplifting way.

                            Where Chocolat does work is the places where it simply is just itself, when it examines the ordinary, everyday things; Vianne pouring a mug of spicy cocoa, the women laughing, Josephine learning to create chocolates, Anouk playing with her friends. Yes, Chocolat is at its best when it is ‘nice’ it doesn’t need to take on heavy subjects or challenge morals, it needs to be about living and loving which fortunately for the most part it is. When the film is at its best it really makes a case for itself as one of the most seductively charming dramas of the decade, it has poise and elegance, humour and wit with an easy confidence and wry intelligence that puts it far ahead of most others in its genre. It perfectly mixes rural French sensibilities with more polished Hollywood product, keeping the pleasing quietness and allure of French filmmaking with the accessibility and sheen of contempory Hollywood. This works as it gives the story more credibility and substance and it also allows for the kind of nostalgia that will make audiences forget about the films flaws, if this is your kind of thing, if you revel in old world/French/post war dramas then there is more than enough here for you to like. The setting is quaint and richly recreated; the cinematography has a real feeling of authenticity, the pace is slow but gentle enough to keep fans interested and its nostalgic atmosphere will no doubt place this of many people list of favourite films.

                            I can’t help but think Chocolat is a little too easy. Characters do dreadful things and find their redemption just a little bit too freely and quickly, damaged people going through pain but see the light within the space of a few hours, the whole story feels a little bit too idealistic and paint by numbers. Some may argue that this is part of the films magic, but I just saw it as laziness and felt cheated by the characters ultimate development, everything ends just a little bit too neatly. However there are enough plot twists in the screenplay to keep people engaged and the characters are interesting enough to make you invest in them. The screenplay has some rich dialogue and the interaction between the main players is always the highlight of all the scenes, you get a real sense that the scriptwriters put a lot of effort into the words of Chocolat, each sentence sounds just right and each response meticulously crafted, it is a shame then they don’t contribute to a stronger story arc. In paying so much attention to the little things the script writers start to loose grip on the more substantial elements of the plot, it all gets pulled from underneath them by the last frame.

                            Juliette Binoche is wonderful as Vianne; she is gorgeous and has a real screen presence and poise, she has star quality and a ferocious talent that drives all her performances. Here she really shows the strength and confidence that make her role such a successful character, Binoche portrays warmth and humanity with a lot of gusto. She really des light up the screen with her infectious smile and makes her scenes highly watchable, she also gathers a lot of believable chemistry with all of her co-stars. I am not sure that this performance deserved the Oscar nomination (Binoche is capable of much more) but she does prove herself to be one of the most engaging romantic leads working in films today. Johnny Depp is lumbered with a bad character and does very little to improve upon him; I have never found him very convincing in romance stories and wasn’t very impressed with his mediocre performance, in this he doesn’t seem to have the energy or presence to really pull the –already weakly crafted- character work. Lena Olin is a brilliant actress, really one of the most talented women working in main stream Hollywood, she entered the hit show Alias and completely changed the programme around, and she is never anything less that wonderful in Chocolat. She plays the abused Josephine and is heart breaking, utterly convincing and really quite engaging. Judi Dench is also her usual wonderful self here (what can you say about her that hasn’t already been said?)

                            I could write a big long list of all the films flaws and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference, I could shout out all the things that make the film bad until I’m blue in the face, but the truth is that it wouldn’t matter, Chocolat is so very charming, so self assured and so utterly uplifting that it is nearly impossible not to fall head over heels in love with it. It’s powerful and seductive and so full of optimism that the cracks don’t seem as emphasised as they perhaps should; the nagging feeling that the film shouldn’t work disappears with the magic and luxury of the proceedings. It has all the qualities of chocolate itself, its sweet; it’s a little overrated but most of all it is familiar and comforting. For fans of the genre I can see how Chocolat is regarded by many as a masterpiece, for the rest of it may be a bit of a let down, but its still enjoyable entertainment.

                            You can buy Chocolat from Amazon.co.uk for £6.97 ASIN: B00005LDBH or from their marketplace for around £5.00 I am sure that on Ebay you can probably pick it up for much cheaper. If you enjoy the film you can buy the accompanying book from Amazon for £6.99 ISBN: 0552998931

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                              30.01.2006 10:23
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                              A magical tale of love, freedom and food - far better than the book, for a change

                              When I first saw the trailer for this film, I knew I had to see it. I know, one shouldn't "judge a book by its cover", but a movie where chocolate is practically the central character was totally irresistible for someone who is known in certain Internet circles as "The Chocolate Lady". That, and an amazing cast, was what pulled me into the movie theater. But the charm of this film - despite some critics calling it contrived - was what made me purchase the DVD.

                              The Story:
                              "Once upon a time there was a quiet little village in the French countryside - whose people believed in 'Tranquilite' - Tranquility."

                              Simply stated, this is a film about change and simple pleasures, and how the latter affects the former. Into a sleepy, conservative, devoutly religious French town come two strangers - Vianne Rocher (played by Juilette Binoche) and her daughter Anouk (as well as Pantoufle, Anouk's imaginary kangaroo), arriving at the exact same time as the holy season of Lent. Vianne boldly opens a chocolate shop, of all things - the epitome of temptation, at just a time when the town's residents are supposed to be denying themselves the pleasures of the flesh. But is this really so sinful an act? Or could it be that there's something actually saintly about the effect of chocolate, as well as these strangers on this quiet town. Something in the nature of both the chocolate and its maker seems to lower the inhibitions of the town-folk. And as the town gets to know the new shop and its owner, it seems as if they are also getting to know themselves better. Add to that the arrival of a troupe of river gypsies (well known for their thievery and wild sexual ways) led by the charming Roux (Johnny Depp), and you know that there will be trouble on the horizon. There's more to the story than this, but as always, I'd rather people see the film and be surprised than give it all away here.

                              The Direction:
                              This film was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also directed such films as "Cider House Rules", "Shipping News" and "What's eating Gilbert Grape". A quick look at this list of achievements, and you'll notice that Hallstrom seems to go for films that are slightly out of the ordinary - something with a twist - and this film is no exception. Of course, the essential quality needed for such films is a careful touch, and this is Hallstrom's specialty. Hallstrom moves easily between the worlds he portrays in the film - that of the opulent chocolate shop, the mysterious charm of the newcomer, the stern religious community, the colourful river life of the gypsies and the varied lives of the villagers themselves. Together he concocts a mixture that's smooth as a ganache that's flavoured with an exotic liqueur.

                              Moreover, Hallstrom seems to know just how to get the right amount of humour and drama out of each and every scene. This is something that he achieved in spades with "Cider House Rules" and I feel he repeated this success here as well. Mind you, I don't actually think that he was working with the same type of material, and yet, there's a feel about this movie that is very special indeed. Sort of like that unusual feeling you get when you go someplace for the first time and you suddenly feel like you're home, you fit in, even though everything is totally new and strange for you. That's the feeling that I get when I watch this film, and I've watched it several times already, and that feeling has yet to fade. Totally unique. But direction alone isn't what makes this movie so special. No, it's a real combination of so many other things as well - the acting, the script, the music, and even the scenery contribute no less to the success of this film than Hallstrom's excellent direction.

                              The Script:
                              As you probably know, this movie was based on the novel by the same name written by Joanne Harris. The screenplay was written by Robert Nelson Jacobs, who is probably as unknown to you as he was to me. Prior to this movie, his credits were sketchy at best - the story for "Dinosaur" and the screenplay for something called "Out to Sea". It is unfortunate that his only other credit was for the flop adaptation of the marvelous book "Shipping News". But for this movie, he certainly was in top form. He pulled together all of the essential elements of the book (and yes, I'll review that as well, eventually) and made it into something very charming and magical.

                              The dialogue here was masterful. Every character was given a unique voice and individuality and I felt that no one ever acted out of character, or predictably. There was always a feeling that you were getting to know these people with all of their faults and quarks, and you even begin to feel sympathy for those characters that you don't even like. That's no easy feat to achieve, and it heavily depends on the script to get that. Why Jacobs didn't get an Oscar nomination for this script is totally beyond me - apparently the Academy didn't read the book, for if they had, they would have understood just what a great job he did on this film.

                              The Music:
                              It isn't very often that I feel that I enjoyed the music in a film as much as I did the film itself. This is one of those times. And what makes this film slightly different than many others is that they've gathered here a large selection of pieces especially for this film, by a slew of artists. All of this has been artfully pulled together by the artistry of Rachel Portman who composed the score. But we never feel that the music overwhelms the movie, nor do we ignore it. I find it's the perfect balance. And while there's not a single "hit" song that you'll come away humming after you see this film, it does seem to me that the soundtrack for this film would be a welcome addition to your music library.

                              The Scenery:
                              Most of this film was shot on location in rural France, what part, I'm not totally sure. It's hard to imagine that there's some town that's near a river and yet also on a hill, but I don't know France very well, so I could be wrong in thinking that this is a touch of an oxymoron. But who cares, really? Part of the charm of this film is the look and feel of the town where the action takes place. And since the atmosphere of the setting is so endearing, it makes you feel like the film is welcoming you into its opened arms. Of course, it's only when we get up close that the armor beneath the surface is revealed. But that's the conflict in the film, and any film without conflict just wouldn't be interesting, now would it?

                              The Special Effects, Stunts, Cinematography, Costumes & Make-Up:
                              Yes, in some films this would be a huge category to write about, but I think in this case a passing word of "subtle" will do. There is nothing that seems out of place or obviously fake. In fact, this seems quite a realistic film, with only a few exceptions (like a statue that goes from frowning to smiling, for instance), and since the story takes place in the 1950s, we wouldn't want anything to pull us out of a comfortable, nostalgic realism. I should mention, however, that there are some noteworthy parts. For instance, the fire on the river boats was masterfully done. And making Dame Judi look mean and nasty was no mean feat! Plus there are some really lovely bits of the making of the chocolates that are totally mouth-watering. All-in-all, it's the little bits and pieces that were not forgotten in this recipe which make it so delicious.

                              The Acting:
                              I've left this part for last, and I'm sure you'll understand why. In the technical stuff below you'll see a list of the cast. And what a cast it is, isn't it? What makes it particularly interesting is that there's an exceptional mix here of well known and unknown names. This combination can easily work just as much to a film's disadvantage as it can to its advantage. The trick is not allowing the ‘stars' to overshadow the ‘newcomers', while also not allowing the ‘newcomers' to trip up the ‘stars'. In this film, I think they got it right. The ‘stars' here are Binoche, Depp, Dench and Molina, with a special guest appearance by the aging, but still lovely Leslie Caron. Most of the ‘newcomers' are actually French and while those French Film Buffs among us may know them well, these are mostly new faces to the rest of us. The thing is, I really cannot find one particular performance which out shown any of the others here. To me, what made this film particularly enjoyable was that each and every actor and each and every character seemed so three dimensional and real, that it's hard to pick and choose. It was if, instead of watching filmed fiction, we were actually witnessing real events. Some may think this is a tad disappointing, but I found it refreshing.

                              The Bottom Line:
                              This film, for me, was simply first rate in every category I can think of. The realistic feel, eye-candy and pure enjoyment that imbued this film were a wonder to behold. This film is a credit to all who were involved. To the director, for achieving the feats of making everything seem alive and believable. To the screenwriter who built the story and characters so carefully. To the composer and music editor who enhanced the action so lovingly. To the other crew who kept an eye on every detail. To all of the actors involved who gave consistent and believable performances - both as individuals and as a team. In short - all of the ingredients in this confection were grade A+, and the result was a delectable gourmet masterpiece. So go on, indulge in this movie (but I recommend you buy this DVD only if you're as totally addicted to this film, as I am, since there's not much in the way of special features included on the disk). And remember, there's no fat, no cholesterol, no carbohydrates and no calories when you're watching a film - even this one!

                              Thanks for reading!

                              Davida Chazan © August, 2003 for Ciao, updated January, 2006 for DooYoo

                              ~~~~~
                              Technical Stuff:
                              There's an official site for this movie in French which you can find at http://www.bacfilms.com/site/chocolat/

                              Available on DVD from Amazon for £5.97, Used & New from £4.99, Classification 12, Runtime: 121 min, Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only), Widescreen, PAL, ASIN: B00005LDBH, Catalogue Number: D888331. On Video from Amazon for £13.49, PAL format, ASIN: B00005LDBB, Catalogue Number: D61152.

                              Soundtrack available also from Amazon for £13.99, Used & New from £8.93, Composer: Rachel Portman (Cider House Rules, Benny and Joon, Sirens), Conductor: David Snell (Cider House Rules, Much Ado about Nothing), Label: Sony Classical, Catalogue Number: SK89472, Released: 1 February, 2001, ASIN: B000056ULX.
                              ~~~~~

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                            • Product Details

                              Chocolat is an enchanting, moving and heart-warming tale of love and temptation, a big-budget movie with its roots in European art house cinema. Magical and almost fairytale-like in theme, it's the story of the mysterious Vianne and her arrival in a quiet, old-fashioned French town at the end of the 1950s. Gradually her attitude to life and the delicacies that she prepares in her chocolate shop have a marked effect on the local people, bound as they are by the twin forces of religion and politics. Juliette Binoche is perfect in the role of the sensuous, captivating Vianne--a masterstroke of casting matched by the performance of Judi Dench as the splendidly grumpy but ultimately inspiring matriarch Armande. Very much an ensemble piece, the whole cast are indeed excellent, with Johnny Depp (making a fair fist of an Irish accent) superb as the drifter Roux, the one man capable of unlocking Vianne's own desires. From its majestic opening swoop to the final, joyous scene, Lasse Hallström's film, based on the bestselling novel, is nothing short of a masterpiece. On the DVD: As befits such a film, the DVD is an elegant, well thought out package. The movie itself is a visual feast, a combination of a beautiful setting, rich, opulent colours and textures and a mystical atmosphere. There's a range of documentary features examining the style of the film and its background, as well as an audio commentary and some excellent scenes deleted from the final cut. More in-depth notes are to be found in the accompanying booklet and the whole thing adds up to one of the most satisfying DVD releases in a long time. In one of the accompanying documentaries, Depp wonders if it is possible to create art through cinema. It may be a difficult task, but Chocolat is proof that it can be done.--Phil Udell