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Chocolat (Lasse Hallstrom) 2000
Chocolat is awful. Juliette Binoche stars in the film (which gives her next to nothing to do), which is sort of Where the Heart Is... meets The Full Monty. It's a completely offensive liberal fantasy. The basic plot is that a woman comes to a small town in 50's France, and through the power of her chocolate making, changes their outlook on lives. The problem with this is that you need to share its viewpoint, which is that all of the townspeople are stupid & blindly follow their way of life & religion since they don't know any better.
The film treats Catholicism as folly. I'm not Catholic, but I was still offended. It takes place during Lent. Binoche's character tempts all of the characters to break their Lenten vows with her chocolate, and this is seen as a good thing. She doesn't attend church & seems to callously brush aside their views on religion. Basically her character's goal comes at the cost of the town's way of life, and we're expected to applaud that. I just want to warn you that the film, while seemingly sweet, is incredibly subversive in the worst way. It manipulates the audience into accepting the offensive views it has, and then tries to beautify its ugly ideas with mood lighting.
If you watch the film with any sort of rational mind at all, you can't help
but be offended. I'm up for magic realism as much as the next person, but this
film doesn't work at all. I didn't read the book, but the film is so flimsy. For
example, it doesn't explain why the chocolates have the effects they do at all.
There's one flashback in which Binoche explains the Indians believed cocoa beans
make people lose all their inhibitions. That's well & good, but I don't lose
all inhibition when I eat a Hershey's bar. There is obviously something
different about HER chocolate and the film does nothing to explain it.