Saturday, July 17, 2010

Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y chocolate)

Diego: I couldn’t resist the temptation. I love strawberry! Mmmm. It’s the one good thing made in Cuba. … Oooh (spooning a whole strawberry out of the dish of ice cream), today is my lucky day! I’m finding wonderful things.
Strawberry and Chocolate is a film about odd couplings, involving relationships between the flamboyantly gay and the innocently straight, the experienced teacher and the naïve student, the desperate counterrevolutionary and the committed party ideologue, the live-and-let-live and the police informant. A simple choice of ice cream flavors encapsulates this clash of ideas: the selection of strawberry, when chocolate is available, is highly suspicious and leads to intrigue and conflict but eventually understanding and friendship.

In addition to the sexually charged scene in the park, when Diego (Perugorría) brings his strawberry ice cream to David’s (Cruz) table, Strawberry and Chocolate includes a highly symbolic dinner scene. Although the only food depicted is a turkey, the viewer understands that, as with so much in the lives of these characters, much is left to the imagination. As Diego explains to David, “Handsome, we have recreated the banquet that Doña Augusta gives in the pages of Paradise [Paradiso]. The most glorious novel ever written on this island. Chapter 7, Cuban edition. Now you will soon belong to the fraternity of Lezama’s [José Lezama Lima] worshippers. Once you read it, you too will understand. (offering the forbidden book) It’s a gift. A first edition signed by its author.” And at the end of the meal, Diego, David, and Nancy (Ibarra) raise a toast to “the lazy shrimp and flaming baroque!”—a reference to the subversive nature of all authentic living.

Released 1995
Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio
Written by Senel Paz

Starring Jorge Perugorría as Diego, Vladimir Cruz as David, Mirta Ibarra as Nancy, Francisco Gattorno as Miguel, Joel Angelino as German, and Marilyn Solaya as Vivian

Awards: 1995 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize Special Mention; 1995 Argentinean Film Critics Association Silver Condor for Best Foreign Film; 1994 Berlin International Film Festival Silver Berlin Bear Special Jury Prize (Alea and Tabío) and Teddy for Best Feature Film; 1995 Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film; 1994 Gramado Film Festival Audience Award, Golden Kikitos for Best Actors (Cruz and Perugorría), Best Latin Film, and Best Supporting Actress (Ibarra), and Kikito Critics Prize; 1993 Havana Film Festival ARCI-NOVA Award, Audience Award, Best Actor (Perugorría), Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ibarra), FIPRESCI Prize, Grand Coral-First Prize, and OCIC Award; 1995 Premios ACE for Cinema-Best Actor (Perugorría), Cinema-Best Director, Cinema-Best Film, and Cinema-Best Supporting Actor (Cruz).

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