Number of Times Seen – 2 (3 Nov 2001 and 29 Jan 2018)
Brief Synopsis – After a woman and her daughter open up a small chocolate shop in a French village, they are met with conflicting reactions by the locals.
My Take on it – During the 60+ years that the Academy only nominated 5 films for Best Picture (1944-2008), it was more difficult (not impossible tho) to find a film on the list that would completely baffle as to how it got there.
For me, this film should be on that list because it tries hard to be great but falls quite short.
The idea to create a modern fairy tale kind of story that serves as a morality play is an interesting idea but it just doesn’t work well enough here.
This film does have some great performances and Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina are all great here but even that doesn’t help make this story any better.
The use of Johnny Depp also doesn’t help and in truth it takes away from what they were going towards.
He and Binoche have terrible chemistry together and the romance aspect doesn’t work at all.
They present the atmosphere quite well but the attempt to present this a fable also takes away from the impact because it makes it more difficult to take the story seriously when done like this.
Definitely the weakest of the five nominees that year. Gladiator (2000), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Traffic (2000) and Erin Brockovitch (2000) are all much better options for the top spot.
Bottom Line – Interesting idea that just doesn’t work through most of the film. Great performances by Binoche, Molina and Dench can’t help make this story more enjoyable. The chemistry between Binoche and Depp is non-existent which makes the love story moot. The atmosphere is done well but the way that it is presented as a fable takes away from what is meant as a morality play. Still not sure how this film got nominated for Best Picture.
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – In the scene where Pere Henri is dancing, Alfred Molina was originally supposed to walk down the steps and see him. However, because he actually had a hurt toe, he just stood there instead of walking down the steps. (From IMDB)
Rating – BAFTA Worthy
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