<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
<script type="text/javascript"
</script></div>{/googleAds}Rumor has it that when the trailer for this picture was shown to audiences before Rocky Balboa it was presented as a dark horror film, and upon revealing its title got unintentional laughter. The film tanked at the box office, quickly disappearing without so much as a splash. This is a great shame, as although this entry into the werewolf genre is not a classic by any standards, it certainly has its unique charms and is worth a visit.

Blood and Chocolate is based on a novel by Annette Curtis Klause, and apparently deviated substantially from the source material, with the author not being included in the process. To that end it will be the film's storyline reviewed, not the book's.

Director Katja von Garnier's adaptation to the screen attempts to deliver a Romeo and Juliet with wolves, couched in the backdrop of a modern Bucharest, and flavoured with a sense of fairytale. While pitched as a werewolf movie to its audience, this picture really isn't. Nearly any conventional approach to the werewolf mythology is avoided deliberately, and to the film's credit it makes for a fresh presentation.

It tells the story of Vivien (Agnes Bruckner) a 19 year-old 'loup-garoux' (werewolf); a troubled and somewhat isolated young women with a sad past, who is trapped in a world of ancient traditions and responsibilities. She meets the travelling graphic novelist Aiden (Hugh Dancy) and a romance between them blossoms. But she is already betrothed to the ‘loup-garoux' leader, Gabriel (Oliver Martinez), and, of course, trouble ensues.

It's a great story - one that would make for a compelling revision of the genre. Unfortunately, there are as many mistakes in its execution as there are moments of true originality.

The script, written by Ehran Kruger and Christopher Landon, is inconsistent, especially in dialogue, where it hops from modern vernacular to poor attempts at lyrical old-world speak that never quite meshes. Characterization also suffers, especially when focusing on the antagonists, as they never seem quite... meaty enough, nor foreboding enough, to provide the threat needed to sell our heroine's motivations and our hero's fear. Also a mistake is a tacked on sub-plot about a prophecy that is completely unnecessary to the main plot, and only serves to over-complicate an already engaging story. Also, the tone of this story was not set in stone, and it shows.

The performances are a major let down for the film. The two leads do a passable job, but could have been pushed further in moments of high emotion. But the rest of the cast is found sadly lacking, including Oliver Martinez, who turns in a boring, wooden performance as the main antagonist. Also of note is the miscasting of Brian Dick as a pack leader of ‘the five,' someone who is supposed to be intimidating and threatening, who is about as scary as Pee-Wee Herman in a cage match. In fact one gets more reaction from the wolves' acting, than from the humans.

Garnier's direction is also a mix of blessings and inconsistencies. The backdrop of Bucharest is a fresh and engaging setting that the director all-too often doesn't take advantage of, focusing entirely too much on close ups, and not widening the shots to avail herself of some amazing scenery. In complete contrast, she adeptly delivers some breathtaking work with real wolves, and wilderness scenery. An annoying intrusion is the frenetic, non-linear music clip-like moments haphazardly strewn throughout the film that almost always take you out of the narrative, and make you pray for them to end quickly.

Editing is the biggest fault of this picture, especially in moments of action. There are far too many talking head scenes, and a terrible 80's love montage, set to a tacky song that belonged in a Karate Kid sequel.

Final gripe is the score. Considering the lyrical nature of these creatures and some truly beautiful moments with them, the invasion of pop songs at certain points serves only to undermine the characters' effects. Far more suitable to the tone this film was trying to set would have been scored character themes.

In the virtues department, the cinematography is - for the most part - rich and layered, whether in the streets of Bucharest, or on a stage, it shows real depth of details and texture in many different environments. The effects are excellent and subtle, including a very original, beautiful transformation technique, and golden eyes on our characters.

Blood and Chocolate was a valiant attempt at something original, and in terms of originality, it succeeded. There is truly no werewolf film like it (although again, it really isn't a werewolf film in the strictest sense). Mediocre or inconsistent elements mar its presentation throughout, and frustratingly reduce its potential effect. If a tone for this film was set from the beginning, and applied to a single convention (ie: if you're making a lyrical love story your male lead shouldn't deliver Arnie-like one liners) then this film had a chance to be something great. Sadly, though, it is merely an original take on a myth, delivered in an average way.


DVD Details:

Special features include an anecdote filled commentary with director Katja von Garnier, and actor Oliver Martinez, and a large collection of deleted scenes.

Screen formats: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 presentation

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary.

* Commentary -
o With Katja von Garnier and Oliver Martinez.
* Deleted Scenes
o Includes 15 scenes that didn't make the final cut.
* Trailers

Number of discs: - 1 with Keepcase Packaging


You are here: Home
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes