Merci Pour le Chocolat (2000)

 “In this house, I serve the chocolate.”

merciIn Merci Pour Le Chocolat Mika Muller (Isabelle Huppert), the owner of a chocolate factory remarries Andre Polonski (Jacques Dutronc), a famous pianist. Their youthful first marriage ended in divorce, and Andre subsequently married Lisbeth. Three years after Lisbeth’s sudden accidental death, Mika and Andre remarry, and they live in Mika’s splendid house along with Guillaume, Andre and Lisbeth’s troubled teenaged son.

Jeanne Pollet (Anna Mouglalis), the daughter of a local foresic expert accidentally discovers that she was born in the same hospital as Guillaume, and that there was some sort of question of a mix up of the Pollet and the Polonski babies. Jeanne is also a brilliant pianist, and she is intrigued with the possibility of the mixed-up baby theory. She approaches the Polonski household and soon Andre takes her under his wing.

The first 3/4s of Merci Pour Le Chocolat is very strong. The stage is set for some nefarious deeds to take place, and the build-up of tension and suspense in the film was incredible. Claude Chabrol is one of my favourite directors, and so I really looked forward to the DVD release of this film. Isabelle Huppert is one of my absolute favourite actresses, and I try to get my hands on all of her films. She is really so wonderful with these sort of roles–perfect on the outside, but it’s the inner mind that proves most interesting and twisted. Mika Muller is just a little too nice to everyone. Why is Guillaume so estranged from his father? Why does Mika insist that everyone taste her own special formula of hot chocolate? Why is Mika so curious about Jeanne’s parentage? I was intrigued by this film, but then suddenly it was over. The denouement was not so much shocking as far too abrupt, and the reactions of the main characters to the events were just too wooden and unbelievable. This film could have been so much better, and that’s the really annoying thing. The acting was stellar (apart from the final scenes), and all the characters were interesting, but so many facets of the story led nowhere and ultimately it’s as though a big chunk is missing.

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Filed under Claude Chabrol, France, Isabelle Huppert

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