The makers of this film have significantly changed some of the historical details but the thrust of the story remains true. In his association with the clown George Foottit, a Parisian star, the duo become great favourites with audiences. Chocolat is Foottit's knockabout sidekick, who endures his somewhat demeaning role with a smile. Until, that is, he starts to resent his treatment while at the same time aspiring to greater things, such as playing Othello! But are the Paris audiences ready for this?
This is a film that starts off as a quite amusing take on Chocolat's introduction to clowning and his rise in popularity, leading to a somewhat lavish lifestyle and some unwise involvement with gambling and strong liquor. And he also likes the ladies. As the plot develops the film becomes much more of a character study as we witness Chocolat's attempt to shed his clown persona and become a serious actor. He is helped by his wife, a white woman who is not immune from the racism of the day.
Omar Sy plays Chocolat as if the role was written for him and is ably supported by James Thiérrée as the more serious and circumspect Foottit. As the final credits roll we are treated to a glimpse of the real Chocolat and Foottit by way of archive footage, and we see that the producers of this film have worked hard to portray the duo exactly as they were.
A final bit of trivia. In French, être chocolat is an informal expression meaning to be deprived of something that you were counting on, and comes from Chocolat's experiences at the hands of Foottit during their act. Thus his name lives on.