The setting is a village in rural France in 1959, and the film opens with the arrival of a stranger (played by Juliette Binoche) and her daughter. The newcomer is a pagan with ancestral links to South American Indians, and has no intention of toeing the line on attendance at mass and observation of Lent. On the contrary, she comes to tempt the villagers with the heady pleasures of chocolate and opens a shop for the sale of nothing else. As the villagers furtively begin to visit the shop, chocolate be-comes the answer to marriage problems, shyness and depression. It becomes a symbol for a hedonistic, carefree and sunny attitude to life. The repressed and repressive mayor and his puppet young priest are determined to root out this corrupting influence, and the film traces the progress of this turf war between the church and the chocolaterie.
Death by Chocolate
Director Lasse Haelstrom
It is rather depressing to realise how unbelievers perceive Christians. The film Chocolat, based on the book of the same name by Joanne Harris, shows that Christians, or at any rate, churchgoers, are seen as those who must be always denying life's pleasures and wanting others to do the same.