Merci Pour le Chocolat

on August 02, 2000 by Kevin Courrier
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   Veteran director Claude Chabrol has taken promising material for a black comedy and turned it instead into a somber chamber drama.

   "Merci Pour le Chocolat (Nightcap)" is about Andre (Jacques Dutronc), a recently widowed concert pianist. He marries his wife's best friend, Mika (Isabelle Huppert), who is the CEO of a large chocolate factory. Just when domestic bliss appears apparent, in walks Jeanne (Anna Mouglalis), an 18-year-old piano prodigy who may be Andre's daughter. Her presence not only upsets his son, Guillaume (Rodolphe Pauly), but also Mika, who just may be poisoning the family with her drug-laced chocolate brew.

   All through "Merci Pour le Chocolat," Chabrol seems to lose track of the elements of the plot. First, it's a mystery about whether Jeanne is really Andre's child. When that point is neatly dropped, then Jeanne plays detective in uncovering Mika's plot. But Chabrol also abandons that thread, which only leaves us with a an inevitable, tired conclusion.    Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis and Rodolphe Pauly. Directed by Claude Chabrol. Written by Caroline Eliacheff and Claude Chabrol. Produced by Martin Karmitz. A First Run release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 100 min.

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