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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2011

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"Chocolat" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-august-2011-chocolat

Synopsis

One windy day, a strange woman and her daughter come to a little French village to open a special chocolate shop.  They are immediately shunned by the ultra-conservative mayor, Comte de Reynaud (Molina).  Slowly but surely, Vianne (Binoche) wins the town over one person at a time.  To further complicate the mayor’s fight against immorality, a group of drifters arrives by boat led by the pirate-like Roux (Depp).  After she takes in village outcast Josephine (Olin) things really start to heat up.  Events come to a head when Josephine’s husband sets fire to the drifters’ boats.  The mayor, in his rage, breaks into the shop.  He tries to destroy the displays but when he accidentally gets a taste of one of the treats, he too is won over and finally admits defeat.  Easter arrives and the cloud of conservatism is lifted as life finally returns to the village.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2000, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 2 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp
  • Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Sensual
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is a delightful movie that has a little something for everyone.  While it won’t hold the attention of the youngest children, it is a family film that will appeal to a broad range of tastes.  The principal actors are all strong and give superb performances.  Judi Dench as the grumpy grandmother is especially entertaining.  And you will roll on the floor laughing as Alfred Molina covers himself with chocolates and other confections when he destroys Vianne’s window display.  There are plenty of other funny bits involving the local priest, the townspeople and even a cheeky little dog.  I do recommend having some chocolate on hand when you watch this because a craving is inevitable!  Highly recommended.

Technical

Image quality, while not reference-level, is a vast improvement over the DVD release.  The main thing I noticed was the veil of gloom and murkiness was finally lifted.  The film is fairly grainy and that combined with what seems to be an ever-present mist made the DVD look flat and lifeless.  This Blu-ray has a vibrancy and depth that I found very pleasing.  Contrast and color are excellent even if sharpness and detail fall a bit short.  Overall, I was quite happy with the picture.

Sound is clear and detailed at all times thanks to the DTS-HD Master Audio encode.  Dialog is crisp and easy to understand at all volume levels.  The music is particularly enjoyable with a mix of guitar and violin.  The score has a mid-twentieth century European pub feel that fits the story perfectly.  My hat’s off to composer Rachel Portman.

Extras

Bonus features include a making of featurette, a documentary about the costumes, a production design featurette and deleted scenes.