Better Than Chocolate
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The heroine of the film is Maggie, a young woman who has dropped out of university to try and find herself as an artist. She also supplements her income from painting by working at a bookstore which serves the LesBiGayT (Lesbian-Bisexual-Gay-Transsexual) community of a small British Columbian town.
Maggie's life is greatly complicated when, on the same day, she begins to fall in love with an itinerant painter named Kim, and she receives word that her mother and teenage brother are going to be coming to town to stay with her. This is particularly problematic because Maggie hasn't disclosed her sexual orientation to her family.
A certain amount of predictable hijinks ensue as Maggie tries to keep her family from deducing the truth about her relationship with Kim. She also, of course, must keep them from figuring out that anything is "out-of-place" about her friends and co-workers. As well, there are several sub-plots introduced to give the film more political relevancy, including Canada's strict censorship laws and the subject of anti-transsexual discrimination in the LesBiGayT community, however they are not especially well developed.
In conclusion, this film is very funny at some points, but moves very predictably at others. It is a rather light-hearted take on lesbian romance and coming-out issues, but the sub-plots occasionally weigh it down. Since most of the sub-plots contained enough potential to be films of their own, the film-makers could have dropped some of them from this picture to spend more time exploring Maggie and Kim's relationship. That said, I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys romantic comedies and has an open mind.
As with most films in this genre, there's the central love story, here a sort of instant-fall-in-love scenario between two women, both of whom are essentially nice, attractive, etc. The "character flaw" of one is that she lives on the road and always leaves when the going gets tough; the other one's "flaw" is that she hasn't told her mother that she's gay, yet, and hasn't really committed to her identity as a lesbian. So, they fall in love, the mother comes to stay with her daughter, hijinks ensue. There are a few subplots tossed in, the most interesting of which centers around the one transgender character who is hoping (in vain) that her parents have finally accepted her.
The good things about this movie? Well, for one thing, there are a couple of truly erotic scenes between the two main characters, and well done erotica is a rarity in ANY genre of film. Also, there are a couple of song/dance routines that are performed by the main characters that are truly nifty. As a matter of fact, I wish they'd done more of that and less of the soap-opera-y stuff.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in the film is just how predictable it all is. You know who's going to end up together, you know that the mother will eventually find out the truth and, after a bit of shell-shock, will accept her daughter as a lesbian, etc. There are no surprises. And the political subtext (censorship is bad, violent skin-heads are bad, prejudice is bad, etc.) never risks challenging its viewers; it's pretty much a given that anyone who's going to see this movie is going to agree with all the opinions expressed within it.
So, if you're in the mood for yet another gay/lesbian comedy/drama, you could do worse than this one. But don't go into this expecting anything profound or brilliant... "Better than Chocolate" never challenges or surprises, it only re-affirms what's already been said in other, similar movies.
Other fun and interesting characters include (Judy) a transexual, the bookstore owner and a bisexual, nyphomiac who also works at the bookstore. Once you have seen this movie a few times try watching it with the Director's Commentary which I found very interesting.
Within the first twenty minutes, Maggie meets and falls in love with vivacious Kim, helps her conservative lesbian boss fight customs who seem to be trying to put her out of business. Oh, don't forget Maggie has to find a place to live, because her newly divorce mother, Lila is moving in with her along with sibling, Paul, neither who know that Maggie's been living in a bookstore since she quite law school, and she's gay!
Couple this with her omisexual co-worker, and transgender friend, Judy, who has love and parent issues of her/his own, and you've got a great story.
I almost cracked up when Lila goes..."Kim do you have a boyfriend?" and Kim replies, "No...Funny that!" Everyone seems to be in on the joke, but Lila who replies, "What's wrong with boys?" Maggie's fighting off an uncontrollable need for laughter and the audience does too. Wendy Crewson as Lila is an added addition to this romantic comedy.
All said in done, I wonder what it's like to live in that world. Definitely never a dull experience. This is a must see regardless of your lifestyle.