Saturday 15 April 2023

Movie Review: Peace By Chocolate (2021)

Genre: Biographical Dramedy
Director: Jonathan Keijser
Starring: Hatem Ali, Ayham Abou Ammar
Running Time: 96 minutes

Synopsis: In 2012, a Syrian family fleeing the civil war resettles in the small community of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Tareq (Ayham Abou Ammar) hopes to continue his medical studies despite a series of rejections from university programs. His father Issam (Hatem Ali) is an expert chocolatier but knows no English. With help from immigration sponsor Frank (Mark Camacho), Issam sets up a small chocolate business that quickly grabs national headlines. Tensions persist between father and son, and not everyone in the community is thrilled about the immigrant success story.

What Works Well: A Canadian production based on actual events, co-writer and director Jonathan Keijser delivers a low-key and heartwarming story about the immigrant experience. Filled with the up-and-down chapters of life in a new country, the film is spiced with humour and captures collective and individual flavours. Dramatic depth is provided by the clash between the traditional patriarch and a son who will not yield on a life's ambition.

What Does Not Work As Well: The episodic structure and modest production values are more consistent with television-level aspirations. Everyone here appears to instantaneously adore Issam's chocolates before their taste buds can be engaged. The resentment among some locals at the success of the Peace by Chocolate venture is awkwardly handled.

Conclusion: Discreetly bittersweet with occasional hints of delight.

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