Chocolat Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
One tranquil Sunday in 1959, a cold wind blows two strangers into a small and unsuspecting French town. With no regard for Sabbath observance, the unashamedly unwed mother and daughter rent a neglected patisserie and transform it into a chocolate shop.
Much to the disapproval of the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), the pious mayor of the conservative Catholic community, Vianne (Juliette Binoche) opens her confectionary during Lent, the religious season of abstinence. After he cautions the villagers against contaminating themselves with any of her wares, the attractive single woman finds business and friendship hard to come by. Despite this intolerance, Vianne’s determination, friendly disposition, form-fitting clothes, and jaunty red high heels still defy the Mayor’s perception of a miserable sinner.
Meanwhile her window display of decadent dainties continues to tempt the timid townsfolk. Extending her cocoa creations to some of the other misfit citizens, Vianne finds a loyal following with a kleptomaniac trapped in an abusive marriage (Lena Olin), her swearing and non-church-attending landlady (Judi Dench), and a man from a group of vagrant river people (Johnny Depp). Brewing concoctions she claims will awaken the passions, Vianne’s handiwork captivates any who will take a bite, and begins to alter the moral fabric of the village.
Nominated for five Academy Awards, it’s no coincidence that Chocolat presents the same melting pot of values as The Cider House Rules—the films share the same director. In this case, the gorgeous cinematography, smooth musical score, and milky messages of exceptionally compassionate atheists, act to sweeten the dark and extreme character exaggerations of judgmental Catholics who are either zealots or unable to think for themselves.
These ingredients, as well as the film’s mature theme that purports chocolate to be an all-round aphrodisiac (exhibited by a couple having sex with momentary female nudity), and a tense scene involving an intoxicated man coming to reclaim his wife who has taken refuge in Vianne’s home, may cause this eye-luring delight to leave a bitter aftertaste.
Starring Alfred Molina, Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release February 5, 2001. Updated April 9, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Chocolat rated PG-13? Chocolat is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for a scene of sensuality and some violence
Full of rich cinematography and luscious images, Chocolat is one woman’s attempt to teach tolerance to a 1950’s Catholic French community. Using chocolate as a metaphor for pleasure and sin, many townspeople are drawn into the spell and begin straying from their conservative church-centered traditions. Parents should note the inclusion of strong sexual themes, portrayal of an abusive husband, and what some may regard as anti-religious messages.
Woman steals what looks like a small purse. Schoolyard children quarrel. Woman steals small article from shop. Brief shots of an artist’s sketchbook show morbid drawings. Woman reads ghoulish poetry aloud. Angry woman knocks down picture and kicks large stone statue. Woman fleeing from her husband displays large bruise and cut on forehead. Drunken man breaks into home and begins beating and choking female resident. Man struck on head with skillet. Boat with passengers on board set on fire and explodes. One character helps criminal avoid justice. Angry parent grabs child by hand. Crazed man breaks into and vandalizes shop.
Sexual Content: C-
The notion that cocoa beans are an aphrodisiac is an underlying theme of this movie. Mother announces she has never been married. A couple making sexual sounds is briefly heard, along with far shot of their upper bodies through a window. Female pin-up pictures shown in background of one scene. Brothel is mentioned. Child speaks of not knowing who her father is. Naked couple engaged in sex shown in an approximately 15-second-long scene, blanket covers only their waists down, detailed silhouette of female’s breast also seen. Man speaks of having “impure thoughts.” Two dogs briefly seen in mating position. Man and woman begin kissing passionately in scene that ends with implied sexual encounter. Nude female figure molded from chocolate is seen.
At least: 6 mild profanities and 4 terms of Deity used as expletives/profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: C
The notion that cocoa beans have aphrodisiac properties. Woman asks if there’s “booze” in cup of hot chocolate. People in rough caf0xE9 shown drinking. Woman who takes insulin for diabetes wants to be called a “drug addict” because it sounds more exciting. Intoxicated man seen on several occasions. People drink alcohol at party and other social settings. Some background smoking shown.
Page last updated April 9, 2009
Chocolat Parents' Guide
Although Vianne encourages the abused Josephine to take make changes to escape the cycle of violence, she later feels powerless to alter her own destiny. Why is it harder to identify what things in our life really are within our control than it is to see it in others? What personal qualities are required to achieve change? How did the characters in this film support each other during these pivotal moments?
This film paints all its religious characters as self-righteous and intolerant, and all the “sinners” as humble accepting folk. Is this an accurate portrayal of either group?
Vianne suffers some moments of despair throughout the film. Are they all the result of rejection or are some of them the natural consequences of her choices?
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For another romance that examines the plight of an unwed mother, and features beautiful cinematography and a chocolate vendor, check our review of A Walk In The Clouds.