Love, Romance & Chocolate
New York accountant Emma Colvin is heartbroken when her boyfriend leaves her before their planned romantic getaway to Belgium for Valentine’s Day. Convinced by a friend to go alone on the trip, Emma has the adventure of a lifetime when her Belgian innkeeper introduces her to renowned chocolatier, Luc Simon. Luc and his fellow chocolatiers are in the midst of a competition to create the most romantic chocolate in Belgium for the upcoming Belgian royal wedding. He discovers her kitchen skills, and soon she’s immersed in the competition and a budding romance develops.
In the movies, a “meet-cute” is one of those contrived situations where a man and woman, who the audience knows right away are destined to fall in love, meet for the first time. Love, Romance & Chocolate follows that formula with Emma (Hallmark Channel veteran Lacey Chabert) and Luc (Will Kemp), who come together in Belgium not long after Emma gets unceremoniously dumped by her former boyfriend in New York. The trip to Belgium was supposed to be their Valentine’s Day getaway and Emma goes solo after a friend encourages her to go on “an unscripted adventure.”
That’s key because “unscripted adventures” are hardly part of Luc’s DNA. He’s a second-generation Belgian chocolatier who believes in sticking to the recipe, playing it safe and all the other painting-the-town-beige aspects of life. Stitching together her broken heart, Emma is learning to color outside the lines. Unscripted adventures in the kitchen lead to some of her best sweet creations. Think maybe the same thing will happen in her romance life?
When Emma drops in and starts taking pictures around the town of Bruges, Luc inadvertently gets in the way. Using the little bit of Belgian Dutch she studied before making the trip, she asks the stranger to move and then tries to explain by saying, “Ik hou van jou” which she thinks means, “I’m a tourist.” The man gazes back at her, silently puzzled at the woman he’s never seen before. What she actually said was, “I love you.” Unaware of what she’d said, she continues ruefully, “First cute guy in Belgium and you have no idea what I’m saying.”
The meet-cute is completed the next day when Emma tours chocolate shops with a group in Bruges and ends up—you guessed it—in Luc’s shop, where he addresses the group (in perfect English)! She asks him why he didn’t speak up the day before. “Where’s the fun in that?” he says. Viewers might ask why a second-generation Belgian chocolatier speaks with a British accent, but the map says England and Belgium are not as far apart as we might think. Assuming Luc didn’t speak English isn’t the only time assumption nearly shipwrecks the romantic journey.
Along the way, we are introduced to Max, a rival chocolatier who has known Luc since they were kids. They are rivals in everything. He wants to drive Luc out of business, even buy his shop. Their shops are competing in a contest run by Prince Frederic and soon-to-be-Princess Annabelle, who will name the winner the royal chocolatier. Soon enough, Max and Luc are competing for Emma, too. Max, like Emma, is more of an outside-the-box thinker. Luc sees them together and assumes they are an item. Emma sees Luc and his assistant Petra together, and assumes that those two are an item, forgetting that we learned early in the movie that Petra is married. Just before assumption drives them asunder, Luc finds the courage to tell Emma how he really feels.
It allows Emma to fulfill a family legacy. Belgium was where her grandparents met, and she seemingly shows just about anybody who might be interested their black-and-white photo, which she carries everywhere. Why their romance is the road map for hers isn’t explained, but fans of this genre will find something to enjoy in this movie, and likely will overlook Emma violating her tourist visa by immediately going to work in Belgium, however picturesque it may be. The movie merits the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
The Hallmark Channel stays faithful to its romantic movie playbook, and the sins in this flick about chocolate are vanilla enough to avoid violating Dove standards.