WFF 2021: Our Review Of ‘Peace by Chocolate’

Posted in Blog, Festival Coverage, Movies by - December 04, 2021
WFF 2021: Our Review Of ‘Peace by Chocolate’

Jonathan Keijser’s Peace by Chocolate is a film that exists to please crowds, and I hope I come off as nice as possible when I write that I appreciate it for some of the things it does successfully. But before I get into that, let’s get into this film’s premise. It gets its plot from the true story of a Syrian family. That family is the Hadhads who has to leave war torn Damascus to Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The Hadhad patriarch, Issam (Hatem Ali, RIP), is a chocolatier back home, and the assumption is that refugees have to leave their careers behind and take any job.

That’s not necessarily the case for the Hadhads. Issam, on a bout of insomnia, makes a small batch of chocolate that wows his sponsor family. Peace, then, transitions into depicting the first year of the Hadhads trying to both fit in to a new country and build a business at the same time, and the events of that first year are rocky to say the least. The online word about this film is that it doesn’t have enough conflict, and I disagree. However, the main conflict here is that Issam’s son Tareq (Ayham Abou Ammar) wants to go to medical school.

Peace By Chocolate doesn’t necessarily make that real life plot point an easy sell since as an immigrant, it’s baffling to see a refugee family not want their son to be a doctor. There’s a cultural specificity within that position. Abdul Malik’s screenplay didn’t spoon feed that specificity. But sometimes that spoon feeding might be necessary. There are also some things that are off here, especially that music that cheapens this story. Regardless of what I write here, I see potential for Malik’s future work, as well as most people involved.

Peace By Chocolate screens tonight at Whistler’s Maury Young Arts Centre.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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