Acclaimed director Claire Denis made her feature film debut with this intimate and evocative semi-autobiographical feature, based on her childhood as a French colonial in West Africa, where her civil servant father was stationed.
“Chocolat is one of those rare films with an entirely mature, adult sensibility … made with the complexity and subtlety of a great short story.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
France (Mireille Perrier) reminisces about her childhood in Cameroon as her father (François Cluzet) comes and goes on call, which leads to the strengthening of her friendship with their devoted house servant, Protée (Isaach de Bankolé), and to the escalating sexual tension between him and her beautiful mother, Aimée (Giulia Boschi). The delicate balance of the household is upset by the sudden arrival of a group of strangers, stranded by a nearby plane crash. As Protée increasingly becomes an object of desire and of scorn, France’s nostalgic memories become more and more ambivalent. The themes of this meditative, intricately-observed film – race, class, sex, desire, eroticism, colonialism, family, “Otherness” – have become signature elements in the cinema of Claire Denis. (Dir. by Claire Denis, 1988, France/West Germany/Cameroon, in French and English with English subtitles, 105 mins., Rated PG-13)