Johnny Depp’s Most Romantic Movie Is Arriving On Netflix
Johnny Depp's romantic drama Chocolat is coming to Netflix on October 1st.
After months of a televised trial and endless media coverage, maybe you’re tired of hearing about Johnny Depp. If so, you’re in a tiny minority, as it seems people can’t get enough of the Pirates of the Caribbean actor. Many are going back through the 59-year-old’s film history and rediscovering his underappreciated work, including the romantic drama Chocolat, which hits Netflix on October 1.
The film was a surprise hit in 2000, earning five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (for Juliette Binoche) and Best Supporting Actress (for Judi Dench). The film, from director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) and based on the novel by Joanne Harris, tells the story of single mother Vianne Rocher (Binoche) and her six-year-old daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) who open a chocolate shop in a small village in rural France in 1959 and causes a furor in the straight-laced town. Johnny Depp stars as Roux, a gypsy who sails in on a boat on the town’s river and proceeds to sweep Vianne off of her feet.
Although Chocolat is a romantic drama, its charm is in its comedy, as the star-studded cast give the film a quirky twist so few films are able to capture. When Vianne’s chocolate shop opens across the street from the church (and dares to be open on Sunday) in the middle of the Lent season, it becomes a forbidden sensation among the townspeople, who savor her exquisite treats and open up their personal lives to her sympathetic ear.
The town’s mayor, played by Spider-Man: No Way Home actor Alfred Molina, doesn’t care for Vianne and her ways, and attempts to undermine her business and her standing in the community. Johnny Depp’s Roux is also unwelcomed, but he manages to win over not just the town, but Vienne herself. Roux fancies himself as a river-rat without a care in the world, and you see some of the beginnings of the charming pirate persona he would bring to Jack Sparrow just three years later.
Joining Johnny Depp in the film is Judi Dench (James Bond’s M) as Armande Voizin, Vianne’s landlord who tries to reconcile with her daughter Caroline (played by Carrie-Anne Moss of The Matrix movies) in the confines of the sweet shop. Alias alum Lena Olin (who is married to director Hallström) as an eccentric who is pulled out of her shy shell by Vianne, and character actor Peter Stormare (Fargo, Prison Break) plays her abusive husband.
Surprisingly, even though Johnny Depp gets second billing in the film, he doesn’t actually appear on-screen until nearly halfway through the two-hour film. At the time, Depp was coming off of playing Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow the year before, and his next major role was in Blow, showcasing the wide range of roles Depp was able to portray.
Exteriors for the movie were filmed in the French town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain (hundreds of village residents were employed as extras), although a number of scenes were filmed at studios in England. Although Johnny Depp lived in France at the time (with his then-partner and French actress Vanessa Paradis), not a single scene he appears in was filmed there, but rather in England. Judi Dench never set foot in France to make the film, as all of her scenes were shot in Great Britian.
Depp also admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the gourmet chocolate featured in the film, preferring the cheaper, store-bought milk chocolate popular in America. He was actually allergic to chocolate for most of his childhood, finally overcoming it as an adult.
Although it was a surprise Oscar contender (it ended up not winning a single one), critics were less than enthralled: it earned a 63% rating from Rotten Tomatoes, although audiences rated it much higher, at 83%. The cast received high marks, including Johnny Depp, although many critics noted his less-than-convincing Irish accent is a bit distracting. The British accent he used for Jack Sparrow, inspired by Rolling Stone member Keith Richards, fared much better with critics.
The film had a limited opening in December of 2000, but had a wide release in January of 2001, eventually earning over $71 million in the United States and over $152 million worldwide.
If you don’t have Netflix, the film is also available to stream on Paramount+.