Chocolat Screen 5 articles

Chocolat

1988

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  • Denis has some success in establishing the lazy, contemplative rhythms of life in such a place, which are partially upset when a group of travelers who are waiting for their plane to be repaired move in—an intrusion that brings diverse sexual, racial, and political undertones to the surface—although the episodic flow tends to set up an occasional self-consciousness and air of portent about the film's apparent lack of pretension.

  • Denis employs the power of the visual to convey a plethora of information in an instant and to create a strong emotional impact. Silent observation becomes a powerful and highly articulate space. The vast silence of West Africa dominates the narrative. Stylistically this is conveyed through long shots laboriously panning the sparse West African 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. It’s brilliantly executed—a story told completely in small but significant gestures.

  • Claire Denis came to us seemingly fully formed. Watching Chocolat, her first feature film, more than 20 years after it came out, one is struck by how unmistakably hers it is. The images are strange yet familiar... At once cerebral and sensual, a bewitching tapestry of fragments and elisions, the movie is that rarest of pleasures: a debut picture that clearly announces the arrival of a singular sensibility.

  • Few auteurs of the past 30 years have been able to match Denis's gifts at distilling mood and atmosphere; her narratives, at once immediate and oblique, are conveyed via an inexhaustible arsenal of ineradicable sights and sounds. What's most remarkable about Chocolat (1988), Denis's first feature, is the degree to which her superb command of the sensuous is already apparent.

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