Thursday, October 6, 2011

Movie Review: Better than Chocolate

This will be our first movie review here on The Chocolate Cult. It is something I've been wanting to do for some time but with everything else I do, it has been pushed to the back.  Well, on Netflix a movie on my list was going to go away so I had to watch it.

This is the 1999 movie Better Than Chocolate
starring Karyn Dwyer and Christina Cox who play Maggie and Kim, two young lesbians in Vancouver.  Maggie works in a woman's bookstore and Kim is "traveling through" in her van on her never ending journey across Canada painting for a living and attending festivals.

Maggie has a problem: she's been lying to her mother, Lila (played by Wendy Crewson), about a lot of things in her life including dropping out of school, having an apartment, and being straight.  Personally, I don't condone lying but let's leave that aside and say that in 1999 and for many people today their sexuality is a scary topic and when people are afraid, they lie.

Maggie's lies wouldn't be an immediate problem except her university has sent a letter to her mother's home at about the same time as Lila is divorcing her husband (who is apparently not Maggie's father).  This is a bit too convenient I felt for a movie.  Too much thrown together at once really.  I think we could cover much of the same territory without Lila and brother Paul moving in, maybe they come for a visit?

Lila is very conservative, a traditional wife whose discovery of her husband's pushed her to get a divorce, and her daughter treats her like she is fragile.  She isn't as fragile as we think as her developing friendship with Judy (played by Peter Outerbridge) a transsexual proves.

The movie really functions as a commentary on Canadian society in the aftermath of cultural feminist attacks on books and other forms of mass media.  I say this a radical feminist by the way, one who believes that true change comes from within and through education, not by forcing our cultural views onto others.  The bookstore in film is the focal point for censorship and for attacks from people in "the community" who dislike homosexuals.  But the attacks are not simple external and we see strife with the lesbian community itself especial against transsexuals.  Even after almost 13 years it is quite striking how many of the taboos and difficulties some of us face in 2011!

But what does all of this have to do with chocolate?

Well, at one point as Lila is out interviewing for a job, we see her popping a piece of chocolate in her mouth.  Later she explains to her children and Kim because she is "so old" and will therefore never have sex again, her only pleasure in life will be chocolate.  Of course later she discovers this isn't true but I won't add spoilers to this review. Throughout the movie we keep seeing her popping more and more chocolate, never over indulging but definitely using it emotionally.

In terms of a decent story about human relationships, parents and children, and the growing pains of social change, I think it was a pretty good film.  If you aren't upset by discussion of sexual orientation, then you might want to check this movie out. 

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