Review: Chocolat Blu-ray

Chocolat Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Miramax/Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Lasse Hallstrom | CAST: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Judi Dench
RELEASE DATE: 7/19/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes
SPECS: PG-13 | 122 min. | Romance | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

ChocolatRomance movie Chocolat has a charm that permeates from its sensual script, its beautiful actors and its gorgeous setting, and that charm continues to overflow in this Blu-ray version.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, Chocolat tells the story of a woman (Juliette Binoche, Dan in Real Life) and her daughter, who move into an old-fashioned French village and, to the dismay of the local mayor, open a chocolatier during Lent. Her arrival and her confectionary have a positive impact on the villagers, opening their hearts to the joy of life. But Binoche still searches for her own satisfaction until she meets a gypsy (Johnny Depp, The Tourist) who offers some mystery.

The quiet film is directed with a leaisurely pace by Lasse Hallstrom, who similarly told smaller stories in a beautiful way in The Cider House Rules and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (another Depp starrer). And the performances from Chocolat‘s all-star cast, including the brilliant Judi Dench (Jane Eyre) and the always reliable Alfred Molina (An Education), are wonderful.

And the images in the movie are stunning, from the colorful decorations of the chocolatier to the old-world village square to the rough and tumble boat of the gypsies. All of this should look even more amazing in Blu-ray’s high-definition, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. Not that the picture is bad, but with the film’s grain, the image lacks the usual color saturation that we love on Blu-ray releases. Same with the audio. It doesn’t have the punch of other high-def titles.

The special features menu has a good collection of extras, but none are new. All were on the film’s the original DVD release. Included are a pretty standard commentary with Hallstrom and producers David Brown, Kit Golden and Leslie Holleran; a handful of deleted scenes and three featurettes.

Of the featurettes, the most fun is the making-of, which has interviews with the cast members, Hallstrom and others from behind the camera. Of course, everyone thinks everyone else is a genius, but in this case, we can see that they mean it. As Depp pronounces, he’s got a crush on Dench, and as much as we love her in everything she does, we can understand why.

The other two featurettes delve into the film’s costumes and production design, giving us some insight into two of the aspects that make this movie so wonderful.

If you already have Chocolat on DVD, you don’t need to buy this Blu-ray. But if this film isn’t in your library, for $19.99 — which is discounted further at retail — this is a good deal.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.