Written By Darren
Rating 2.5 out of 5
Peace by Chocolate tells the heartwarming true story of Assyrian refugees moving to Canada and rebuilding their lives, which is guaranteed to leave audiences with a smile on their face by the time the credits roll.
It’s impossible not to enjoy Peace by Chocolate as it is a truly wholesome and inspiring film that is certain to touch anyone who watches it with this great true story. Even though the film was not something I thought I would be interested in or is a type of story that I would normally enjoy, there is no denying that I was impressed by this film. Maybe it was the Canadian in me enjoying this town set in a small town in Canada and the true sense of community that we have in our country, but there is something in this film that can entertain the most cynical viewer.
The film follows a family of Syrian refugees moving to Canada to restart their lives, and use their chocolate making skills to rebuild the family business out of their home. It’s a story that not only made headlines in Canada, but also internationally as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about them at the United Nations years ago. The film deals with lots of important issues that we are currently facing in Canada: the refugee situation of how to help individuals that are relocating to Canada, the physician shortage our country is facing, and the strict retraining that qualified doctors need to be done before they can practice medicine in our country. All of these ideas are told nicely through the screenplay, using the struggles of the main character of the film.
With a brisk runtime of ninety six minutes, the writers do a good job juggling these ideas while keeping focus on the central father-son relationship at the heart of the film. The film does at times sugar coat these issues, having them resolve themselves fairly quickly, which is unfortunately not the reality faced by the countless individuals facing these same challenges, but it gives the target audience the warm feeling watching this film that they desire. At the same time, there are so many Canadian-isms throughout the film, which will play very well domestically as audiences will love seeing that Canadian pride and friendliness come through, while audiences internationally will wonder why there is not an “eh” in every scene.
Though, it’s the charm of main actor Ayham Abou Ammar that is the film’s biggest asset. As Tareq, the young Syrian refugee balancing trying to help his family’s chocolate business while pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor, Ammar lights up the screen with a warm and caring personality that pulls the audience into the struggles of his character and his family. Opposite him as his father is Hatem Ali, who plays the character very well. Never for a second does it look like Ali understands English, never breaking character as the refugee struggling to maintain his old life and not adapt to his new surroundings. As father and son, Ammar and Ali have a great dynamic that is full of moments of love, while also creating the main friction at the centre of the fim. The rest of the cast is good, there are no weak performances to be found in the film, but the screenplay gives all the big moments to Ammar and Ali, so it’s hard for the rest of the cast to have their standout moment.
There is no denying that you will enjoy yourself watching Peace by Chocolate, as the screenplay is finely tuned to entertain audiences and let them leave feeling better about the world, even if it's a film that will not be remembered within a week of watching it.