In a celebration of your inner chocoholic, Chocolate Road follows three chefs on their journey of cocoa enlightenment. Director Tanya Chuturkova creates a wholesome view of chocolate without ever feeling romanticized. The documentary takes chocolate making to its literal roots in cacao plantations in South America to the candy factories of the United States, Japan, and Denmark. But not everything is as sweet as candy, as the process of making chocolate is a laborious harvest, a complex science, and an elaborate art.
The film uses expert chocolatiers Maribel Lieberman, Susumu Koyama, and Mikkel Friis-Holm to explain some of the finer points of chocolate making. Almost like a chocolate-centric It Might Get Loud, these masters of craft describe their unique philosophies to the chocolate-making process. The movie emphasizes at every turn the value in understanding the origins of the beloved food. From its beginnings in the Mayan civilizations to modern-day candy innovators, the director seeks to explain what makes your favorite candy bar possible.
“…follows three chefs on their journey of cocoa enlightenment.”
As expected, the film features fantastic footage of the chocolate-making process. There are countless shots of swirling, sweet chocolate drizzling on top of the next great treat. Director of photography Kim E. Wang makes everything look delicious and fills you with that childlike feeling of opening a fresh chocolate bar. Along with its fun-loving tone, the movie feels like an extended chocolate-focused version of the Disney ride “Living with the Land.” It is informative but rarely overbearing and is consistently appealing to the viewer’s sweet tooth.
Watching Chocolate Road is, as the name would suggest, a chocolate overload. It’s a fun, foodie documentary celebrating cacao in vibrant montages of rippling chocolate pools. The film contains a strong message about the harvest and labor of cacao and the importance of fair wages within the industry. Unfortunately, during the sections on the history and harvest of cacao, the movie loses its sense of style, taking much of the picture’s momentum with it. I admit it sounds horrible that the parts of the narrative focusing on the intense harvest are the least engaging, but they are. 100% it’s vital to the overall message, but the sudden introduction of a History Channel-esque narrator took me out of the documentary for a brief moment.
Chocolate Rpad does manage to recover in the climax, balancing education with enthusiasm. Despite the uneven middle passage, the first and final acts carry plenty of substance and style to merit a watch. If you have found yourself curious about your chocolate consumption or wish you could spend 90-minutes in the opening of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Tanya Chuturkova’s movie will satisfy your cravings.
"…makes everything look delicious..."