Alain Belmondo and Gerard Crosnier. Claire Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau.
When the camera does finally move, it pans nearly degrees to the right before coming to rest on a young white woman. I thought little of the shot the first time I saw the film, but watching Chocolat again last night, I was struck by the economy of that single, simple camera movement.
The young woman, we eventually learn, is traveling through Cameroon, visiting the lands where she was raised as the daughter of a French colonial district officer. Ten minutes into Chocolat, we leave the present to enter her reverie of the past, and all but the final few minutes of the film are a recreation of her childhood landscape.
Like an Edith Wharton novel, Chocolat appropriates the conventions of a romance plot to comment on restrictive social structures, specifically the complexities of a colonial system that simultaneously dehumanizes and hypersexualizes the colonized, while also degrading the colonizer.
She could not have witnessed this event, and so we are left to answer any number of questions: Who is telling this story?
From what evidence is she reconstructing her narrative? How does something so subjective as memory not to mention love, faith, and power distort our understanding of history, both personal and political. The horizon metaphor begins to find its shape, I think, in juxtaposition with another scene: This is how Gordimer describes the terrifying moment when her heroine, Maureen Smales, recognizes that she is caught in such a trap with her servant, July: How was she to have known, until she came here, that the special consideration she had shown for his dignity as a man, while he was by definition a servant, would become his humiliation itself, the one thing that was to say between them that had any meaning.
The film ends, once again, in the present day. France has hitched a ride from the black man whom she first spotted swimming in the ocean, and whom she soon discovers is actually an American immigrant. Had she imagined herself witnessing some timeless ritual of real black African life?
Did this fantasy put her in closer communion with her mother? With an imagined version of her mother? Her desire to understand, to write narratives that discover the human in inhumane circumstances, is noble, is essential, even if fraught with ambiguities and unavoidable landmines. The final image in Chocolat is another long static shot, the frame divided in half once again by the horizon.
Three black men smoke and laugh as an unexpected burst of rain passes through.
France is gone, but somehow we have retained her its perspective. Denis leaves the camera running for several minutes, inviting us to understand these men, or, at least, fostering in us the desire to do so.Chocolat is a film directed by Claire Denis, about a French family that lives in colonial Cameroon.
Marc and Aimée Dalens (François Cluzet and Giulia Boschi) are the parents of France (Cécile Ducasse), a young girl who befriends Protée. Refunds + Exchanges. Bypass the box office line at many theaters with guaranteed tickets.
If something comes up, you can return or exchange up to two hours before showtime through Fandango. Chocolat () Dir.
by Claire Denis. Claire Denis’s debut film, Chocolat, opens with a two-minute static shot of a man and child, both black, playing in shallow ocean waters. When the camera does finally move, it pans nearly degrees to the right before coming to rest on a young white woman.
Claire Denis' Chocolat (France/West Germany/Cameroon, ) begins with France Dalens (Mireille Perrier), a white French woman in her late twenties, returning to Cameroon to revisit her childhood home.
On her way, she stops to enjoy an unpopulated beach and ends up obtaining a ride into the city from the only other people on the beach, William "Mungo" Park (Emmet Judson Williamson) and his son. Chocolat Chocolat () All Critics | Top Critics Audience Reviews for Chocolat. An evocative and beautifully shot period drama set in colonial Cameroon.
The lethargic pacing and drawn 70%. May 12, · "Chocolat" is a film of infinite delicacy. It is not one of those steamy melodramatic interracial romances where love conquers all. It is a movie about the rules and conventions of a racist society and how two intelligent adults, one black, one white, use their mutual sexual attraction as a battleground on which, very subtly, to taunt each other.4/4.