The 1950s. Lent in the Gascony village of Lansquenet. A red-hooded woman (Binoche) and child (Thivosol) boldly set about converting the old bakery into a chocolate shop which offers delights so tempting that hyper-conservative mayor Reynaud (Molina), fearing for the moral and religious health of the villagers, determines to eject her from the community. Well, what with Vianne's witchlike knowledge of their hearts' desires, the effrontery of her fashionable dress, her friendship with the despised 'river rats', led by handsome, Irish-accented Roux (Depp), she does stir some dangerous emotions in this backwater. Even so, the villagers rally to her life-affirming cause. From the start, Hallström's soft adaptation of Joanne Harris's popular novel-cum-magical fable smoothly proceeds to construct a 'feminist' parable about the role of courage, support and pleasure in personal transformation. But, however excellent the performances, their relevance is diminished by the historical bubble in which they're situated. Roger Pratt's 'period' cinematography preserves the whole in aspic.
Cast and crew
Robert Nelson Jacobs
Juliette Binoche Judi Dench Alfred Molina Lena Olin Johnny Depp Carrie-Anne Moss Hugh O'Conor John Wood Peter Stormare Victoire Thivosol Leslie Caron