Those that know me also know that I love Roleplaying Games, no not those kind, the table top RPG. My particular fancy and general expertise is those of White Wolf. Vampire the Masquerade is of course the top of the collection with quite literally every book. The same publisher also had a game line called Werewolf the Apocalypse. The point to this is that Blood and Chocolate is probably the closest Werewolf movie I have seen to date that conveys much of the right feel to a werewolf game. It is also up there on my list of top werewolf movies ever. Don’t worry American Werewolf in London, The Howling and Dog Soldiers are still above it when it comes to werewolf horror. We aren’t talking about those movies (today anyway), we are talking today about the movie adapation of Annette Curtis Klause Young Adult book.
As expected what do the book and movie have in common? How close of an adaptation is it? Well, having not read the story but reviewed it on Wiki – they have the title and a few characters in common. That said, writers Ehren Kruger (Transformers 2 & 3, Brothers Grimm, The Ring) and Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity 2, 3, 4) somehow translated and transformed the tale (tail?) of werewolves, humans and love completely from novel to screen. I think based on the summary it is an improvement. Perhaps that is German director Katja vonGarnier’s work with the material, the actors involved and of course a massive change in venue.
Moving from a story set in Maryland to one now set in the heart of Bucharest. It helps to have a city so rich in architecture, sculpture and enviornment that it is a character unto itself. All of the shots have a historic weight to them that brings depth no American locale could. They allow you believe that Werewolves have been among us since before the time of Magyar princes and have gone into hiding as men came to fear these creatures who could shift between wolf and man.
The film tells the story of Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) an american werewolf in Romania. Forced to live there after the death of her entire family she finds herself trapped in a life that she tries to escape through daily runs through the city. The local pack leader, who runs the city like a mob boss, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez) has his eyes on her for the position of his new mate despite a massive age difference and the fact that she has no interest in him. In one of her nights trying to escape her life and find solace in the city she comes across a young american starving artist by the name of Aiden (the yummy Hugh Dancy), who is in Romania studying the stories of the Loup Garou (Werewolves) for a comic book, er graphic novel he is writing. Much in the way of Romeo and Juliet these star crossed lovers do fall for each other and a Mercutio like character named Rafe (Bryan Dick) is sacrificed for the cause. Thankfully thats where the R&J similarities end. The two do find each other and are put through trials that test their love and their survivability.
The portrayl of werewolves in the movie is one of the few that brings the wolf dynamic into it as much as the human. There are many subtle and not so subtle mannerisms, movements, and behaviors that show the wolf as much a part of these people as the human is. It was a real pleasure to watch. While they do not have a hybrid form the transformation from human to wolf is made to be a beautiful, spiritual thing rather than a gory painful one. They loup garou do feel like a pack and it was quite refreshing to see.
The romance told over an indeterminate amount of time (a few days-weeks) but builds and is believable. The werewolves believe humans no longer know of their kind yet Aiden is able to research and find enough that he appears to have been told by poor Vivian. When finally faced with her, and her families, true nature he reacts as I believe a normal person would. He freaks the heck out. He actually tries to run away but is stopped not by her, but by the antagonists. When her harms her in the course of saving himself he finds he does love her and works to save her life as well. He also gets one of the most romantic lines ever in a supernatural romance film – “I’ve spent my entire life dreaming about you, what right do I have to wish you away now.” – Melt –
Effects and make up are ok and what fights there are look good. The music is rather catching and I have already gone on for a bit about the sets. The actors are solid with Hugh Dancy really showing many of them how its done. The story does have a few holes in it that you can drive a yugo through but holds together fairly well.
All in all for the TL;DR crowd?
Blood and Chocolate is an easily watchable and enjoyable supernatural romance. It isn’t horror, but is a good take on the werewolf mythos.
I can recommend this for anyone who likes a good romance, YA fan or supernatural fan. It does not have a lot of violence and next to no blood. The title is ridiculous but the end result is worth it.
Tomorrow’s review knows that the blood is the life.