Los Angeles Times - 11/23/1988
"...A first-rate adaptation....A fascinating film done with style, with care and with excellence in every department..."
Keith Gordon's directorial debut is an adaptation of Robert Cormier's novel about one boy's quest for personal freedom. Jerry (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) is an idealistic freshman at Trinity, a Catholic high school for boys, who refuses to accept the status quo of the conventional school. The annual chocolate sale at Trinity is a source of revenue and great pride for Brother Leon (John Glover), a tyrannical and egomaniacal teacher who has been put in charge of the sale as acting headmaster. In an attempt to undermine Brother Leon's grand scheme to sell more chocolates than ever before, Archie (Wally Ward), the smug and brilliant leader of the Vigils, an elite secret society at the school, delivers an assignment to Jerry--refuse to accept any chocolates to sell for 10 days. Jerry willingly agrees to the plan but unexpectedly defies the system when he refuses to take part in the sale at all, infuriating Brother Leon and Archie, who unite to terrorize the young rebel. The power struggle that ensues is a brilliant lesson in intimidation and manipulation delivered by schoolmates and teachers alike. This dreamy and surreal study of youths coping with power and rebellion is reminiscent of LORD OF THE FLIES and DEAD POETS SOCIETY, delivering a refreshing and simple view of a classic underdog played with great subtlety by the young Mitchell-Smith. Glover is superbly wicked as the pathological Brother Leon.
This adaptation of Robert Cormier's novel is an unusual study in personal freedom, as an idealistic freshman at a Catholic high school for boys unexpectedly defies the system and learns firsthand about the power of manipulation and intimidation.
Coming Of Age |
Theatrical Release |
Filmed on location at Sammamish High School, Bellevue, Washington.
THE CHOCOLATE WAR is the directorial debut of Keith Gordon, who appears as an actor in films such as CHRISTINE and THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN.
Peter Gabriel's "We Do What We're Told" and "I Have The Touch" are featured in the film. At the end of the credits the following statement is printed: "To affirm his belief in the universal declaration of human rights and his support in Amnesty International Peter Gabriel has allowed the filmakers to use his words in the production."