Written by: Katherine Faigen, Special to CC2K
Set in a modern day Suburb of DC, the book Blood and Chocolate follows teen werewolf Vivian Gandillon as she struggles to adjust after a recent move from the country following the death-by-arson of her father, the pack leader. As the pack squabbles amongst themselves to determine a new leader, Vivian falls in love with the human Aidan and attracts the attention of pack-mate Gabriel. The plot thickens when several murders occur and all evidence points to Vivian.
When I first read this book, I – like Vivian – had just moved to a suburb of DC, the same suburb Annette Curtis Klause uses as setting for her novel. For me, the book held a dark magic and turned the familiar scenery of my life into something more mystical and wonderful. Needless to say when I found out Lakeshore Entertainment had decided to make Blood and Chocolate into a movie I was beside myself with excitement. I couldn’t wait to see the familiar streets of my home turned into a cinematic vista where some of my favorite characters would become three dimensional and the black and white paper-world of Blood and Chocolate would become vivid and real on the Big Screen.
Of course, before seeing the film, I did what most fans of a novel do before viewing an adapted movie: I hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. I recalled the disaster of Ella Enchanted, but in the back of my head reminded myself of the genius of Fight Club. And then I waited.
Where was this movie? When was it coming out? I’d hear about one release date and then the day would pass and another would take its place. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Blood and Chocolate appeared in theaters.
And I was in school…with no way out.
Trapped, I watched the weeks go by with horror and all too soon Blood and Chocolate was out of theaters. I’d have to wait for it to come to DVD.
Now, if you’re like me, and you’ve been waiting forever for this film to be released to DVD, your long wait is finally over; it hit the shelves June 12th. However, even before this, I had fortified myself for the interminable wait when I caught a break. Some saint had posted the entire movie on YouTube for my enjoyment! I debated waiting for the better quality of the DVD, but in the end, the temptation was too great to avoid. Preparing myself with a large monitor and an even larger bowl of popcorn, I sat down and pressed play. My first shock came not two minutes into the movie when I saw Vivian Gandillon, played by Agnes Bruckner, running through Bucharest, Hungry rather than Georgetown. I quickly suppressed my expectations, arrested myself to the fact that this would not be a firm adaptation, loaded the rest of the movie, and finished it.
As the credits rolled across the screen I shut my monitor off, praising the YouTube goddess who’d posted it, saving me from wasting my money on DVD rental. To those of you who can’t wait to order from Netflix or run out to Blockbuster, I’d recommend saving those four dollars for another film…this one wasn’t that great. The only thing this movie has in common with the book is that the names of the characters are the same. There is still a Vivian, still an Aiden, still a Gabriel, Rafe, Astrid, etc, yet the roles of the characters are completely changed. In the movie, the young teen wolf Vivian has lived most of her life in Hungary with her aunt Astrid (her literary arch-nemesis) after her parents died in a fire. When she meets American graphic artist/runaway Aiden, she falls desperately in love, but has to save Aiden from the wrath of Gabriel, who is intent on making Vivian his wife as is foretold in an ancient prophecy. Agnes Bruckner plays a beautiful, but very flat Vivian. Her portrayal is one dimensional and not all that believable. Hugh Dancy, while always quite delicious to watch onscreen, was forced to drop his lush British accent in favor of an American one (booo), and while it is always a pleasure to watch Olivier Martinez in anything, he portrayed a very unlikable Gabriel. To its credit, the movie’s dark depiction of Bucharest’s seedy nightclubs and apartments along with a rollercoaster plot sequence keeps the viewer from becoming bored, but Bruckner’s lackluster performance and the (in my opinion) unnecessary plot changes from book to movie make Blood and Chocolate a very large disappointment as both a film and an adaptation. The wolves as described in the book are more monstrous than the REAL wolves they used while filming the movie – with all the fantasy they threw into this film, it’s a shame they couldn’t create a better creature. The affected rituals and vampire-like hunting scenes were over-the-top cliché. I’ll give it a four out of ten, and most of those points are due to the fact that no matter what accent he uses, Hugh Dancy is still delicious.
If you’re still dead-set on seeing this movie and can deal with the grainy quality and occasional coughing fit from the bootlegger, I’d recommend seeking out the YouTube version. However, you could opt for the DVD as well (for all I know, it might be somewhat more magical when not on a computer screen). And if you see the movie without reading the source material, do not be discouraged from picking up the book. Both book and film tell very different stories!