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September 23, 2015

ChocMany churches have done Lent courses based on either this film or the book which inspired it.

Chocolat is quite similar to Babette’s Feast in that it’s about a stranger coming to an isolated village and bringing strange foodstuffs. But it takes on the power of legalistic religion more directly, and perhaps is the weaker for it. It’s still a wonderful film, and there is one moment—when the weak priest finally summons the strength to say what he really believes—when you might want to applaud aloud. He cautions his people against judging others, saying: “Don’t let your goodness be defined by what you don’t do; or your community by who you exclude, but by what and whom you embrace.”There is a hilarious, beautiful, and deeply moving example of this, when the Pharisaic mayor gorges himself on chocolate. He lies like a baby on a mound of sweet heaven,—a better metaphor for what it feels like to be forgiven would be hard to define. There is a glaring flaw, however, because the people of this village ultimately exclude one of their number—an abusive husband. He is not allowed to return. Now, perhaps this is simply a sign that the people have not yet fully understood the implications of grace; they may learn in the future that he should be welcomed back. But, regretfully, I suspect this was an example of political correctness on the part of the filmmakers; forgiveness and grace can only go so far in Hollywood cinema. How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films, Gareth Higgins p. 144

Vianne arrives in an idyllic French village and sets up a chocolate shop, soon her recipes are melting the hearts and inhibitions of the villagers, much to the annoyance of the repressed Mayor; But the arrival of a gypsy, Roux, kindles desires within Vianne herself and as romance blossoms, battle commences within the village. Chocolat is a very sweet and whimsical drama that uses some fine actors and alot of beautifully lit photography, but its a slight tale and lacking real passion; Try ‘Like Water For Chocolate’,’ Eat Drink Man Woman’, or ‘Babettes Feast’ if you fancy your food with some real heart and soul.

Père Henri: I’m not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about His divinity. I’d rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, His *tolerance*… Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around… measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think… we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create… and who we include.

Serge: We are still married, in the eyes of God.

Josephine: Then He must be blind.

Luc Clairmont: [at confession] Each time I tell myself it’s the last time, but then I get a whiff of her hot chocolate, or…

Madame Audel: …Seashells. Chocolate seashells, so small, so plain, so *innocent*. I thought, oh, just one little taste, it can’t do any harm. But it turned out they were filled with rich, sinful…

Yvette Marceau: …And it *melts*, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure.

Comte de Reynaud: Rumor has it you are harbouring Madame Muscat. Is that true?

Vianne Rocher: You make her sound like a fugitive.

Comte de Reynaud: She *is* a fugitive. From her marriage vows, which have been sanctified by God.

Vianne Rocher: Joséphine? Come out here a minute. Let His Radiance have a look at you, hm? [shows the Comte the ugly bruise on Joséphine’s forehead]

Vianne Rocher: Is that sanctified enough for you? It’s not the first time.

Comte de Reynaud: I am truly sorry. You should have come to me. Your husband will be made to repent for this.

Josephine: Tell him to repent on someone else’s head.

[first lines] Storyteller: Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in Tranquilité – Tranquility. [Sunday morning congregation sings]

Storyteller: If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you. You knew your place in the scheme of things. And if you happened to forget, someone would help remind you. [wife kicks sleeping husband in pew]

Father Henri: The season of Lent is upon us. This is of course a time of abstinence. Hopefully also it’s a time of reflection. Above all let this be for us a time… a time of sincere penitence. It is a time to stand up and be counted…

Storyteller: In this village, if you saw something you weren’t supposed to see, you learned to look the other way. If perchance your hopes had been disappointed, you learned never to ask for more. So, through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions. Until, one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the North…

[Père Henri is singing “Hound Dog” while sweeping snow from the courtyard] Comte de Reynaud: A new addition to the liturgy?

Josephine: You don’t misbehave here. It’s just not done, did you know that? If you don’t go to confession, if you don’t… dig your flowerbeds, or if you don’t pretend, if you don’t pretend… that you want nothing more in your life than to serve your husband three meals a day, and give him children, and vacuum under his ass, then… then you’re… then you’re crazy.

[Anouk has come home from school upset] Vianne Rocher: Anouk, just tell me what happened.

Anouk Rocher: Are you Satan’s helper?

Vianne Rocher: Well, it… it’s not easy, being different.

Anouk Rocher: Why can’t we go to church?

Vianne Rocher: Well, you can if you want… but it won’t make things easier.

Anouk Rocher: Why can’t you wear black shoes like the other mothers?

Père Henri: [hearing confession] What else?

Guillaume Blerot: Impure thoughts. The woman who runs the chocolaterie…

Père Henri: Vianne Rocher?

Guillaume Blerot: She suggested I buy chocolate sea shells for the widow Audel. And, well… I guess that got me to thinking, about the widow Audel.

Père Henri: At her age? At *your* age?

Guillaume Blerot: Yes, and yes.

Comte de Reynaud: [forcing Serge into the confessional] He is ready.

Père Henri: But confession must be made in the spirit of contrition.

Comte de Reynaud: [pulling open the curtain] You, have you come in the spirit of contrition?

Serge: Contrition… yes contrition,

Comte de Reynaud: [shutting curtain] He is ready.

School Boy: My mother says you don’t have a father.

Anouk Rocher: Sure I do, we just don’t know who he is.

[last lines] Anouk Rocher: As for Badouff, his leg miraculously healed, and he hopped off in search of new adventures. I didn’t miss him.

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