Submitted by admin on Wed, 04/10/2024 - 14:38
The next film in our Anniversary Classics Abroad series is Claire Denis's intense 1988 debut feature, Chocolat, screening April 24 at our Claremont, Encino, Glendale, Newhall and West L.A. theaters. Denis drew on her own childhood experiences growing up in colonial French Africa for her visually beautiful, multilayered, languorously absorbing movie. She explores many of the themes that would recur throughout her work. Returning to the town where she grew up in Cameroon after many years living in France, a white woman (Mireille Perrier) reflects on her relationship with Protée (Isaach De Bankolé), a Black servant with whom she formed a friendship while not fully grasping the racial divides that governed their worlds.Roger Ebert was quick to identify Chocolat as a major accomplishment. His review is worth reading in full, but here's its final paragraph:
"Chocolat is one of those rare films with an entirely mature, adult sensibility; it is made with the complexity and subtlety of a great short story, and it assumes an audience that can understand what a strong flow of sex can exist between two people who barely even touch each other. It is a deliberately beautiful film - many of the frames create breathtaking compositions - but it is not a travelogue and it is not a love story. It is about how racism can prevent two people from looking each other straight in the eyes, and how they punish each other for the pain that causes them. This is one of the best films of the year."
Denis was nominated for several major prizes for Chocolat: the Palme d'Or at Cannes, the Best First Feature at the César Awards, and the Best Foreign Language Film prize by the New York Film Critics Circle. Some of her later career highlights include Beau TravailHigh LifeWhite Material and 35 Shots of Rum.