It may be clichéd pun to call Peace By Chocolate sweet but, no matter how hard I try, I find my way back to that simplistic-yet-all-encompassing word – sweet.
Based on a true story, Peace By Chocolate is a wholesome retelling of how the Hadhad family fled from Syria to Canada after their homestead was bombed. The moving process is slow for the refugese. Tareq (Ayham Abou Ammar) arrives before his parents, giving the son time to get a feel for his new home in Antigonish, N.S and figure out how he can complete his medical education. Despite Tareq’s efforts, he can’t find a program that will continue his education, and the town feels too darn quaint for any other long-term career.
Tareq’s parents make it to Antigosh during his discouragement but, for Tareq’s father Issam (Hatem Ali), a possible career opportunity is discovered. Issam, a chocolatier, is inspired by a local mediocre café to bring his cultural knack for making delicious chocolate to the small town of Antigosh. Tareq is recruited by dad and agrees to help, but he doesn’t think it’s a business move worth committing to despite what Issam envisions.
Peace By Chocolate is Canada’s contribution to the current “nicecore” movement crafted by overtly optimistic programming. Though it’s entirely possible that some movie goers may find the film’s high spirits and the hunky-dory cooperation of its characters to be too hokey, Peace By Chocolate’s warm charisma and positivity worked for me. The formula and attitude is no different than Canada’s popular TV show Kim’s Convenience. The family dynamic is authentic, funny, and is absolutely relatable on cultural and emotional levels. The film spreads itself thin occasionally as the Hadhads gather support from their new community (including their encouraging sponsor [Target Number One’s Mark Camacho]), but the movie never feels like its meandering or milking its feel-good narrative to manipulate viewers.
Peace By Chocolate has a big heart that it wants to share with all audiences.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie