Directed by: #ShehrozeKhan
Written by: #MohammedallyShushtari & #ShehrozeKhan
Starring: #CarlaElenaRodriguez, #MohammedallyShushtari, #GianbrunoSpena
Short Film Review by Taryll Baker
Chocolate follows 17-year-old Jordan, who has grown up his whole life without a father. When his elusive uncle comes to visit for the weekend for the first time in years, the balance that Jordan’s mum has strived to maintain at home starts to turn to chaos. It’s a story that places focus on strenuous, estranged relationships, the affect that can have on a child and how things can change when things that were crumbling attempt to repair.
Jordan (Mohammedally Shushtari) is fatherless and has built a trusting relationship with his mother (Carla Elena Rodriguez), who supports him through all his football ambitions, giving him a somewhat strict but flexible upbringing. That is until his uncle (Gianbruno Spena) shows up and everything is turned upside-down. The bond between mother and son is tested as a new bond between uncle and nephew builds, but there is a secret being kept from Jordan that eventually comes to light.
Chocolate, the new film from Shehroze Khan shows viewers what I assume to be a very relatable fragment of parenting and childhood. There are themes of love, anger, respect, and betrayal thrown into the mix and, across its 25-minute runtime, tackles all of them fairly well. Three solid performances bring all the action to life from a shaky script; there are scenes that feel genuine alongside those that are a touch on the forced side, but overall this is a pretty engaging piece. As the film progresses and reveals its secret, which is predictable but welcome, the tension that was building from the start finally boils to an explosion of conflicting feelings. It’s in this particular moment where the actors get to shine in their own way, with a fair-sharing of screen time and given dialogue/emotion.
As this is a very brittle and rough story, the camerawork reflects that and features a lot of handheld shooting as well as a cold and raw tone to encase that. In every sense, this feels like a very British film, even though the subject matter is relatable to anyone who may come across it. Chocolate takes its time with setting up characters and reveals, the bonds, all with little pieces of relationship history to make the characters feel more lived-in and alive. It does struggle with its presentation, though. The pacing is slow and steady for the first three quarters and then it goes full-throttle which feels a little jarring. It could also use a cleaner and more attuned soundtrack with more care taken to the visuals, including the opening/closing credits, which may seem like a small detail, but one that can accelerate a film to better heights. That said, the familiar story beats and good performances make for a pretty enjoyable watch, so Chocolate succeeds in that respect.