Chocolat – a non-bad-ass hero

Vianne outside her chocolate shop

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Chocolat, which had been much recommended to me previously.  I was definitely taken with the premise, which had a woman who completely changed an ultra-religious French town from itself.  The movie seemed pretty innocent in itself, but it was only until I watched Foxy Brown that I realized just how much the main character was so much like the heroes in the other, more action-filled, movies we watched in class.Chocolat focuses on a woman named Vianne, who travels with her young daughter Anouk, to different places and opens chocolate shops in each.  With her chocolate and her soft demeanor, she proceeds to change each town for the better and make the residents so much happier than when she left.  Although Vianne may seem so different  from the conventional heroes that are seen in films, she definitely counts as one of them.  She may not be as bad-ass as Foxy or Lara, but she is a hero in her own right.

Actually, Vianne has a very Foxy-like moment, in which she takes a woman in trouble (beaten by her husband, in this case) and takes her in, teaches her to make chocolate, and basically frees her from her husband.  Vianne also welcomes the river gypsies when nobody else does, and stands up to the townspeople and the Compte Paul de Reynard (the main antagonist), before finally teaching him that what she does isn’t actually that bad.

It is my opinion that while Vianne may not be a conventional modern heroine, she definitely deserves the same credit as the others.  In her own way, she was strong and was able to help an entire town full of people with her chocolates, and I wanted to share the image of this woman, as well as a fantastic movie that really everybody should watch when they have time.

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3 thoughts on “Chocolat – a non-bad-ass hero

  1. This post reminded me of the movie “Freedom Writers”. While Vianne uses chocolate to bring inspiration to the people around her, Erin Gruwell (the main character) uses words to inspire her students to look past their violent situations. Both characters neglect the use of violence in order to make a difference which makes them less of badasses in the theatrical sense, but indeed more human and realistic. While the courageousness of Lara and Kiddo is indeed impressive, Gruwell tenacity to push her students to confront their demons (in the personal sense, no fictional monsters here) was a masterful display of authority, patience, and love. I highly recommend the film and have placed a trailer of it below:

  2. To add more to the conversation: It should be noted that Gruwell’s commitment to her students did result in her eventual divorce by her husband. He felt neglected and decided to move on to someone else that would give him the attention he felt he wasn’t getting. Since this is based on a true story, I won’t question the director’s choice in adding this element to the film since it did actually happen. I bring it up more to question the idea of women succeeding in the work place some how harming their family relationships. Societal history has claimed the man’s success in the workplace to be attained at all costs while the woman’s career goals take a back seat to house maintenance. The woman is supposed to be her spouses emotional and psychological support when he comes back from a hard day of work. As the money maker, his needs outweigh hers. The movie shows the possible results when the man does not get the support he believes he deserves while also showing his neglect to support his spouse when she needed it most. So the question remains: Have we moved past the point where men are threatened by their wives commitment to their work or is there still very much more ground to cover?

  3. Pingback: How Strong is “Strong?” | Girlpower

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