Rated NR

Lasse Hallström directs this simple fable of the chocolate-peddling gypsy Vianne (Juliette Binoche), who spends her life liberalizing the lives of conservative villagers in the French countryside. Daughter in tow, she sets up chocolate shops and single-handedly unlocks the hidden desires of the religious townsfolk with the magic of the cocoa seed. Once her cautious, god-fearing neighbors get a taste of her homemade chocolate confections, the people begin to come alive and abandon their assumption that Vianne is the devil incarnate. Remembering that this is told in the confines of a fairy tale, the tints of magical realism and the fight against mediocrity are charming, if not mouth-wateringly sweet. Lena Olin, Alfred Molina, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp provide caricatures of fear and love that play out as nicely as the indulgent delights cooked up in the Mayan kitchen.

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