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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
The DVD transfer shows off the deep rich textures of the chocolate and the town to perfection, and enhances the musical score, which is almost a character in itself. The extra material is welcome, though a little lightweight - the commentary by director and producers is informative, although a few members of the cast would have enhanced it. The deleted scenes looked very interesting, but the sound on them was unfortunately inaudible. The documentary was the usual entertaining fluff. I would still recommend the DVD over the video, though, if only for the perfect picture and sound.
It's interesting that all the Brits reviewing the film on Amazon.co.uk praise it for it's eccentricities and fantasy, whereas all the americans on Amazon.com damn it for being unrealistic and manipulative. A film for dreamers, not cynics, perhaps?...
Meanwhile, Vianne finally warms up and disarms her crotchety landlady, jumpstarts a tired marriage for two villagers, and befriends a battered woman, played with appropriate pathos, delicacy, and spirit by Lena Olin. She also manages a flirtation with an Irish drifter named Roux, well played by Johnny Depp, though they seem to lack chemistry together.Read more ›