Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez,
Katja Riemann, Bryan Dick. Rated PG-13.
Contrary to the curiously vicious ravings of bloggers and
critics who should know better, Blood and Chocolate is a perfectly suitable
title for the latest teenage werewolf fantasy from the producers of the popular
Underworld saga. Based on Annette Curtis Klause’s book of the same name, the
movie borrows the phrase from Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf. It is a metaphor –
and a simple one at that – for the internal forces that torment young Vivian
(Agnes Bruckner), an otherwise normal girl who struggles to suppress her lupine
taste for human flesh.
The source of her frustrations? A boy, of course. Vivian
has fallen for Aiden (Hugh Dancy), a young American abroad in her native
Bucharest who just happens to be researching his upcoming graphic novel about
werewolves. Little does he know that he’s dating the pride of the pack – Vivian
has been chosen by Gabriel (Olivier Martinez, from Unfaithful), the head
wolf, to be his next bride. Naturally, she is torn between her familial
allegiances and her very human desires, and the family couldn’t be less
Gabriel is particularly concerned about maintaining the
pack’s low profile, fearing persecution and possible extinction. So he sends
bloodthirsty Rafe (Bryan Dick) to swallow up Vivian’s indiscretion. When Aiden
survives, the manhunt is on, though not with the barbaric gusto of, say,
Apocalypto. Blood and Chocolate is an exercise in sanitized chaos, ensuring
a PG-13 rating for all the teen readers who were drawn to Klause’s book, itself
a simple metaphor for the difficulties of young womanhood.
The film’s climactic showdown, which should pack no
surprises for anyone who has been paying attention, comes when Vivian is forced
to choose between Aiden and the family. A standard shootout ensues – a curious
choice for the grand finale, given the supernatural possibilities implicit in a
movie about werewolves – and, after a laborious set-up, Blood and Chocolate
rushes to a somewhat abrupt conclusion.
It’s all very silly stuff, but Bruckner, Dancy and
Martinez do their best to keep the material grounded. Surprisingly, director
Katja von Garnier focuses more on character and story than on the special
effects, which are basic and unsophisticated. Otherwise, there are few shocks
in the picture, save for the sloppy editing that will leave you scratching your
head once the lights go up – provided, of course, you’re moved to devote any
thought to what you’ve just seen.