The Brunching Shuttlecocks Features


Delicious! Tasty! Smooth! Rich! A culinary treat! Scrumptious! Edible! Exquisite! Something everyone can enjoy!

All of these terms can be used to describe chocolate.

And, to a much lesser degree, the new movie, Chocolat.

Chocolat is the story of a small, boring town which becomes the home to a wandering chocolatier. Soon, everyone in the village is licking their fingers, and each other, and discovering that dessert is more important than spiritual purity.

The script was crafted with the best intentions, mixing dark, bitter religious piety with a hidden core of creamy spiritual wanderlust, topped with speckles of fanciful longing for wild abandon. But for my taste, it was too sweet to ever be taken for a main course, worthy only as a side dish in your cinematic feast.

Juliette Binoche plays the milk chocolate temptress, bathed in a shower of luscious coconut with her character's exotic background, and topped with sensuous chocolate nipples. However her graceful quality is tempered by a self-satisfied air, as if she's hiding a nut in her core and doesn't feel like warning you; you should be honored to bite into her nut and damage your teeth.

Alfred Molina is her adversary, the stoic, frigid Count who detests all things chocolate and would rather immerse himself in a plate of lima beans. His stubborn refusal to taste the sweet things in life is admirable, but soon tires as you become more and more aware that the lima bean was actually a sugar coating, hiding some redeeming feature beneath.

Dame Judi Dench shows up as the doddering old matron, a classic layer of dark chocolate wrapped lovingly around an ample helping of smooth milk chocolate, topped with a mountain of white chocolate wisdom, molded into the pleasing shape of a conch shell.

The most interesting and enjoyable treat in the film was the sweet and satisfying crunch of a Johnny Depp bar, packed with pleasure in every bite, with hints of a wonderful raspberry nougat center. His wandering Gypsy tribe arrives in town to stir up the bubbling cauldron of gooey cocoa, and the movie is better for his creamy presence. However, that very fact brings out the main problem of the story: It's as hollow as a chocolate bunny. The entire Johnny Depp storyline is unnecessary, everything that is accomplished with his brand of merriness could have been done without him, and the story wouldn't have skipped a beat. But the core of the film is shallow, simple and in the end, unsatisfying.

Village is boring. Woman brings chocolate. Village fights chocolate. Chocolate wins. Everyone gets tooth decay or diabetes.

End of story.

There are deeper meanings intended, and the movie has been expertly molded into a pleasing shape, but it's light, fluffy, and in need of a strong entrée, like a ham or meatloaf. Also, dentists around the globe are up in arms about a movie that teaches children to eat nothing but chocolate. A truckload of Trident has been reportedly shipped.

In the end, Chocolat serves up a happy little tale that is every bit as pleasing as the title snack, but it won't fill you up with anything other than popcorn. I'm giving it 3 1/2 milk chocolate Babylons.

Editor's Note:

For those of you who berate me for putting down the SMC, I leave the word "nipple" in this review as proof that I'm not as cranky as you think.

Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Creamy Juliette Binoche, Tasty Leno Olin, Yummy Johnny Depp, Finger-Licking Good Judi Dench, Gourmet Alfred Molina, Sinfully Delicious Peter Stormare, A Moment on the Lips a Lifetime on the Hips Carrie-Anne Moss and chocolate goo.

Join the Self-Made Critic Mailing List Back to The Shuttlecocks Homepage