Blood and Chocolate
MGM // PG-13 // January 26, 2007
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted January 26, 2007
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One thing about this film is for sure, the title stinks. I'm sure it sounds elegant on the cover of the novel this picture is based on, but slap it on the screen, and you're begging people to laugh. Having now seen the film, perhaps a better title would've been, "Hot Topic: The Movie."

Vivian (Agnes Bruckner, "Venom") is young woman living with her relatives in Romania. During the day the innocent girl bides her time working in a chocolate shop, but at night, she reveals herself to be a crucial member of a pack of werewolves. The leader, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez, "Unfaithful"), is ready to marry again, and all signs point to Vivian to be the new bride. Plans changer, however, when an American artist, Aiden (Hugh Dancy, "King Arthur"), takes a shine to Vivian, capturing her heart, but enraging her protective and sinister family of werewolves, or "loup-garou."

First and foremost, "Blood" is harmless entertainment. Outside of the complete and utter bastardization of Annette Curtis Klause's original story, the film plays unexpectedly quietly and with occasional dreamlike elegance if you squint hard enough. Director Katja von Garnier brings an almost sensual quality to the screenplay, and her fascination with the movement of wolves stands out as an odd highlight of the picture.

When faced with dozens of teen-centered fantasy/horror films throughout the year, "Blood" at least has the decency to take a couple of breaths, give us a pass at character development, and stay true to the mysteriousness of it all. However, that's doesn't mean the film is good. In the end, this is still a softball PG-13 take on R-rated themes of risk and attraction, and the dialog can be...well, just awful.

While the edits aren't readily perceptible, "Blood" feels like it was meant for a larger cinematic sweep, and for better actors. I rather enjoyed Dancy's take on lustful idiocy (when a Romanian chick tells you to beat it, always listen to her), but Bruckner doesn't know how to project anything but blandness. And Martinez sure is a handsome fellow, but he's one appalling actor. Playing the king of the concrete jungle, Martinez always looks like he just stepped away from an especially heated shampoo commercial shoot. If Gabriel was intended to be both a touchstone of sexuality and menace, they hired the wrong guy to try and convey it.

For the pimple-faced, teenaged, Goth-girl outsider who fantasizes about a PVC-clad soul-mate meeting every single hour of the day, "Blood and Chocolate" will be their "Citizen Kane." I wish I could share that excitement for this misfire, but one has to face the facts of this picture: it's nothing to howl at the moon over.



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