Into a strait-laced French town in the late 1950s breezes the bohemian Juliette Binoche to open a chocolate shop. Shock horror because this is the middle of Lent and anything pleasurable is forbidden. Even worse, Binoche is a single mother, thus arousing the strong disapproval of her grim landlady, Judi Dench, and especially the omnipotent mayor, Alfred Molina. What ensues as Binoche fights the hostility with the aid of a roguish gypsy, Johnny Depp, is a whimsical fairy tale for adults. Almost everyone in the town has problems – Lena Olin, for instance, is knocked about by her husband – but there seems to be a magical quality to Binoche and her chocolate that can sort things out. So what we have is a battle between pleasure and religious zealotry. The result is a highly enjoyable fable with a strong cast, directed with a charming, light touch by Lasse Hallstrom.
For more of today’s free-to-air films, see ourTV listings