Although very personal and semi-autobiographical, 'Chocolat' isn't Denis' best film (in fact, in my ranking of her work I'd put it in the bottom half...but that's not saying it isn't a really good movie). But it still laid the seeds for her future work. The feature debut of a great director is always an important artifact and this is certainly no exception. So many elements and themes from Denis' later work can be traced right back to her first film...
-The focus on interracial romance which started in 'Chocalt' can be found in her later work like 'Trouble Every Day', 'I Cant Sleep', 'No Fear, No Die' and '35 Shots Of Rum'
-A focus on black people (specifically black males) through the eyes of a white female character (which at times kind of represents claire denis herself) as well as sexual tension between a black male and a white female can be seen in post-'Chocolat' films like 'No Fear, No Die', 'I Cant Sleep' and 'White Material'.
-References to the continent of Africa can be found in almost all of her films either directly like 'Beau Travail' and 'White Material' or in a more subtle/hinted about way like in 'Trouble Every Day' and 'No Fear, No Die'.
-And Even the few Claire Denis films like 'Nenette & Boni' and 'U.S. Go Home' that have nothing to do with Africa (or black people for that matter) got their basic themes from 'Chocolat' in that all three films are essentially "coming of age" tales centered around young people.
(make sure to read "The Cinema Of Claire Denis...")
|Claire Denis directing on set w/ the young "France"|
Like i said earlier, this isn't her best film, but its required viewing if you're a fan and want a better understanding of how she developed as a filmmaker over the years.
Well, that's it. I've now written about every one of Claire Denis's feature films with the exception of 'Nenette & Boni' (the only 2 things holding me back is that I've already written about 'U.S. Go Home', which is very similar in plot and cast and John Cribbs already did 'Nenette & Boni' justice on the pink smoke).