Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra, Francisco Gattorno, Joel Angelino
Directors: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Robert Redford and Miramax Films proudly present STRAWBERRY & CHOCOLATE, the irresistible comedy treat that's received outstanding critical acclaim! Meet David -- a naive young college kid who's out on his own for the very... more »
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Four stars for the movie, two for the DVD
Libretio | 02/27/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE
[Fresa y Chocolate]
(Cuba/Mexico/Spain - 1992)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Ultra-Stereo
Used as an unwitting pawn by his pro-revolutionary colleagues, naive student David (Vladmir Cruz) is encouraged to develop a platonic relationship with flamboyant gay artist Diego (Jorge Perugorria), whose political allegiances have fallen under suspicion. But as their friendship deepens, David is transformed by Diego's resistance to the Cuban regime, even as the forces of oppression begin to close around them.
Though based on a short story ('El Lobo, el Bosque y el Hombre Nuevo') by screenwriter Senel Paz which explores opposite ends of a political ideology, knowledge of recent Cuban history isn't a prerequisite for viewers of STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE, a small gem from co-directors Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio. Far from a mere political tract, this is a joyous celebration of life and non-conformity, distinguished by Perugorria's extraordinary performance as the camp but dignified Diego, who rejects his friend's unquestioning loyalty to the Cuban political system that is stifling their beloved homeland. Their budding relationship is complicated by Diego's unrequited love for David, depicted here with remarkable honesty and compassion, particularly for a mainstream film.
But it's their political differences which ultimately unite the two characters, even as Diego is forced to reap the whirlwind of his public defiance. Much of the narrative unfolds within Diego's crumbling apartment building, where David enjoys a liaison with flaky neighbor Nancy (Mirta Ibarra), who introduces the inexperienced student to the joys of sexual liberation! It isn't a terribly cinematic film, but production values are solid, and the characters are so vivid, and played with such integrity, it hardly matters; this is a movie in which ideas take precedence over action, and the emotional payoff is quite powerful indeed. Beautiful music score by Jose Maria Vitier, too.
Now the bad news: Buena Vista's DVD version is incomplete, missing approximately six minutes of footage. Absent material includes a brief conversation about racism during David's first visit to Diego's apartment, and a sad little sequence in which the two characters pretend not to notice each other after meeting by accident in a bookstore. These revisions were perpetrated before the film's North American theatrical release by Buena Vista's 'art-house' subsidiary Miramax, a company which is notorious for the cavalier manner in which it treats its foreign acquisitions (their version of THE HORSEMAN ON THE ROOF is similarly incomplete). The alterations imposed on STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE seem completely arbitrary, and demonstrate little more than contempt for American audiences. Four stars for the movie, two for the DVD.
For the record, the UK video version runs 105m 51s at 25 frames per second in the PAL format, which corresponds to 110m 15s at the original 24fps.
A sincere film that speaks of the Cuban soul
Libretio | 06/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As, I'm assuming, the only Cuban-American to review this film online, I feel especially proud that my country was able to produce such an eloquent, intelligent and all around outstanding film. Many people unacquainted with our customs couldn't possibly begin to relish the cultural nuances that abound in this film. The slang, the attitudes and all-around mannerisms are unmistakibly Cuban and to me it was as if though I were watching a home movie of some old friends. Rarely, have I related to characters the way I did to David, Diego and Nancy. Jorge Perrugoria's Diego is a triumph. Anyone familiar with what's regarded as the quitessential Cuban homosexual (cultured, well-read, opera and ballet loving) will be able to savor this performance like a fine wine; it is absolute perfection. It is hard to believe that he is, in reality, heterosexual. He is just too, too perfect. The fact that this film captures the essence of Cuba is both a revelation and a devestation. One is made to see the crumbling glory that is Havana and it almost inspires heartbreak. Nevertheless, a terrific film through and through and one that I can't recommend enough!"
Wonderful film that transcends stereotypes
Barnaby Dorfman | Seattle, WA USA | 03/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Cuban film, "Fresa y Chocolate," is the story of friendship between a young student (a loyal member of the Communist Party), and a gay political activist, who is critical of the government's censorship. It is an amazing film for a number of reasons. First, it presents a balanced and somewhat critical view of the Cuban political system. This is surprising since it was co-produced by ICAIC, essentially the official Cuban film production company. Second, though the main characters start out as stereotypes, they develop into very real people who go beyond what the audience would expect.Considered by many to have been a major catalyst in improving the treatment of gays in Cuba; this film presents a rich and interesting view of Cuban society."
Political Foreign Foray With Pathos And Passion
Barnaby Dorfman | 11/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Set in Cuba, this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, vividly depicts the growing friendship between Diego (Perrugoria), flamboyantly gay and involved in the arts, and David (Cruz), a college student who has never questioned the ruling regime. After picking David up at a Havana ice-cream parlor, Diego fails at bedding him but quickly seduces him intellectually, opening David's eyes to the world of art and literature that exists outside the constricted bounds of officially approved thinking. Often gently amusing, Strawberry (subtitled in English) works well, spotlighting its political agenda as well as its human storytelling. The film really comes to life every time Diego's hip-shaking neighbor Nancy (Ibarra), who also develops the hots for David, rumbas through the door. Strawberry & Chocolate was shot on location in Havana, and one of the movie's chief pleasures is the glimpses it offers of everyday life there: vintage cars lumbering down the streets, public beaches, cramped apartments in once grand but now crumbling buildings. A fine foreign film glimpsing farther inside Cuban poltics with pathos and passion."