A couple weeks ago, seeing the DVD for the 2000 flick Chocolat on sale at a bookstore checkout display, I grabbed a copy, recalling how much I had enjoyed it when I saw it on the big screen.
When I watched it last night (and tonight), the flick still held my interest, despite its typical (for Hollywood today) theme of repressive religion. Still, the story’s villain, the town’s prudish mayor did find redemption at the end. It does seem that more often than not when the movies do faith, the faithful are portrayed either as hypocrites or judgmental fools.
And this flick did seem at times a feminist fairy tale. Still, while slow at the end and a bit contrived at times, it had a theme of the power of an individual to break stultifying conformity and help people better relate to one another.
That said, the thing that struck me the most about the movie was Juliette Binoche, its star. Thirty-six at the time the film was released, she seemed comfortable playing a young mother and did nothing to hide her age. Unlike Norma Desmond, she wasn’t trying to recapture a lost, glorious youth. To be sure, Binoche is has a face which seems to improve for the wear.
She seems almost the anti-Meg Ryan, who tried too long to hold onto her screen persona as the cute young woman. Perhaps, it’s Binoche’s good fortune that she never achieved fame in such a guise.
Let’s hope more actresses should take a page from her book and dare shed their youthful ambitions, settling for more mature roles. Instead of seeing their careers tank when they hit forty, while not getting lead roles, like Sigourney, Meryl and the late, great Miss Kate, they may continue to work and continue to dazzle us with their talents.
UPDATE:Â Just realized something else.Â While Johnny Depp, Binoche’s co-star in the flick, is nine months older than his cinematic love interest, he looks much younger.Â That didn’t seem to bother her in the least.