So I’m probably the last bisexual lesbian in North America to watch Better Than Chocolate (1999), a delightful indie Canadian film that centers two adorable lesbian romances. When do people have the time and energy to watch movies after they’re no longer in school?! But while Hanna was off at a conference last week and I was feeling pissed off about the conservative pundits’ commentary on Obergefell v. Hodges I decided to finally sit my ass down and watch me ladies getting up to naughty, pleasurable things. Because I figure nothing says “bite me” in this context quite like just getting on with enjoying our civilization-destroying lives.
I highly recommend Better Than Chocolate (currently available for streaming on Netflix). It feels a bit dated, and is definitely pitched mostly for the teen/college crowd; I would put it on the same shelf as But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) released the same year. The main stage performance is the young love romance of Maggie and Kim, two college-dropout queer artists who meet cute and fall in love … while dodging questions from Maggie’s clueless mother about her daughter’s romantic interests and future plans. For those of us over the age of twenty five, there’s the secondary (though would argue more meaty) story line about trans singer Judy and bookstore owner Francis whom Judy pines after and eventually woos.
While the film is mostly light with a happy ending for its ensemble cast, there are also a few jarring (in a good way) moments where the happy world of queer acceptance is shattered: Maggie and Kim asked not to kiss in public, Judy assaulted for entering the ladies’ room in a club, Judy’s parents rejecting her, a group of rowdy vandals harassing and ultimately attacking Maggie. In the context of a sweet film featuring soft-focus romance, these moments serve to remind the viewer that queer romance most often comes with the possibility of bigoted and violent reaction. A sobering reminder that though we’ve come far in the past century, we still have a hell of a journey ahead.
In the meantime, go enjoy Better Than Chocolate‘s exuberant, spirited celebration of lady love.