Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, Alfred Molina
Viewed in theaters: 3/18/01
Best Picture (lost to Gladiator)
Best Actress - Juliette Binoche (lost to Julia Roberts for Erin Brockavich)
Best Supporting Actress - Judi Dench (lost to Marcia Gay Harden for Pollack)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Robert Nelson Jacobs (lost to Stephen Gaghan for Traffic)
The array of sweets and chocolates in this film are as various as the actors and actresses from France, England, Sweden, and (North) America who make up the characters living in a quaint town in France in the late 1950s. Vianne (Binoche) is a single mother who wanders from town to town with her young daughter, Anouk. When they settle in this particularly strict Catholic village, they aren't exactly welcomed by the Mayor (Molina), especially when Vianne opens a chocolate shop during Lent and doesn't attend church.
Despite the whispering behind her back, she manages to win over (most) of the villagers with her homemade chocolate concoctions that have a tendency to bring out the passionate side in those who have otherwise lost their spark. Aside from being a chocolatier, Vianne also becomes somewhat of the town's psychologist, assisting people with their problems whether it's trying to reignite a fizzled-out marriage, help an old lady (Dench) see her grandson because his mother (Moss) won't allow it, or use her home above her shop as a refuge for the woman (Olin) who's being abused by her husband.
The Mayor becomes even more agitated when a group of river drifters, led by the laid-back, earthy Roux (Depp) make camp on the river in his town and tells the villagers that even though they can't kick them out, they can show them they're not welcome. To spite him, Vianne becomes friends with Roux and convinces her friends to accept him and the others he came with as well. Anouk is convinced they are pirates, Roux being the captain. Hmm...foreshadowing? Wait a minute...a pirate visiting a place where chocolate is made...sounds like two future Johnny Depp movies!
Don't even try watching this movie on an empty stomach because it will make you crave chocolate; I really wanted to try that hot chocolate with chili pepper. While the film isn't exactly the most believable (only two women making all those elaborate and intricate chocolates and everyone speaking English in a French town), it is a charming film that is more fairy tale than it is reality.