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Film / Better Than Chocolate

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Better Than Chocolate is a 1999 Canadian romantic comedy/ slice of life movie. It centers around Maggie, a 19-year old college dropout and lesbian who's just found her true love, an artist named Kim. And then her mother calls and says that she's getting divorced from her husband and that she and Maggie's brother Paul are going to come stay with Maggie. And Maggie's not out to her mother. Combined with that, the adult bookstore where Maggie works is being hassled by the authorities, who have confiscated a shipment of "obscene" books at the border, and proprietor Frances and trans woman Judy are both attracted to each other but too timid to do anything about it. It all comes to a head in a protest put on by Maggie which takes some rather unexpected turns.

Better Than Chocolate includes examples of:

  • But Not Too Bi: Carla flirts with Maggie and is established as bisexual (or omnisexual, in Maggie's opinion) pretty early on. Her only onscreen partner is Paul though.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Nearly all the main characters in the film are lesbians, along with one bisexual women. One lesbian woman is also transgender.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Cat’s Ass is a frequent setting throughout the movie, being a lesbian nightclub always busy and frequently having lip-synch shows. In fact, the movie opens and closes and with a lip-synch show at the club.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Frances, when she isn't flustered by Judy, is incredibly snarky.
  • Drag Queen: Resoundingly deconstructed: Judy has a song about how she isn't one. She's a trans woman, but has clearly been mistaken for a drag queen frequently, to her annoyance.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Both Lila and Paul. Lila is shown parking her car on top of a curb, and Paul drives so fast that Lila and him arrive to Maggie’s place a full day earlier than what everyone expected.
  • Fan Disservice: Everywhere. The crowner? Lila using a candy-dispensing vibrator. JESUS. Some clarification: the vibrator Lila uses is not candy-dispensing. While she does have a piece of chocolate on the bedside table, the beads often found in a rabbit-style vibrating dildo aren't candy. The more you know!
  • Heteronormative Crusader:
    • Officials at customs have seized LGBT-themed books that the book store sells, with this obviously a result of homophobia, particularly as the courts had ruled before these weren't obscene.
    • A local Neo-Nazi skinhead gang harasses the lesbians who work at the book store, and even later throw flares inside which nearly kills several characters after Judy stood up to them.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Maggie, Carla and Lila all get pretty loud when they climax.
  • Insult Backfire: When Lila and Judy attack the skinhead gang to protect Maggie, one of the skinheads calls Judy a dyke. Judy responds with a very cheerful, “Thank you!”
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Maggie and Kim, making out in the shower, get interrupted by the arrival of Maggie's family.
  • Intimate Artistry: Maggie and Kim's first intimacy together involves them both painting each other's bodies, then pressing them onto canvas to make a painting.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tony, the cafe owner next to 10% Books, although mildly homophobic (he doesn't like Kim and Maggie making out in his cafe, and he threatens to call his lawyer when Maggie does her performance piece), is a generally nice guy.
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Maggie definitely, who's a feminine lesbian with long hair and girly air generally.
    • Frances would be more chapstick, as though she's got short hair and more masculine clothing, she's not really butch in other ways.
    • Judy, who's also transgender, is a lesbian with long hair, usually dressed in a blouse at least if not a full dress, while always making herself up.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Paul and Carla have sex on a bench by the docks. Maggie also previously caught Tony having sex with a woman on the coffee bar of his own restaurant.
  • Mama Bear: When the skinhead gang threatens Maggie during her provocative advertisement display, Lila doesn’t even hesitate to charge at them and physically attack them to get them away from her daughter.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Lila, after complaining that as an older woman she may never get to have sex again, finds a sex toy in Maggie's apartment that she uses and really enjoys.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Maggie and Kim. Both are very good-looking women with multiple sex scenes together or shown in their lingerie.
  • Only Sane Man / Team Mom: Judy, who seems to be in charge of keeping the cast's collective sanity in tact. Some would go as far as to say she does the same for the audience.
  • Queer Romance: Maggie has just found Kim, who's the love of her life. However, things become difficult when Maggie's mother and brother come to stay at her place, as Maggie isn't out to her mom.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Maggie and Paul both look embarrassed when their mom Lila mentions her sex life (or the lack thereof).
  • Punch-Clock Villain: An acquaintance of Frances, Bernice, works as a security officer at the customs office and throws Frances and Maggie out during their visit. But when customs decides to execute a raid of 10% Books, Bernice steals a copy of the warrant and gives it to Frances to warn her.
  • Rescue Romance: Kim and Maggie first meet when the former saves the latter from skinheads harassing her.
  • Shower of Love: Maggie and Kim make out in the shower while washing themselves off after the naked painting they did.
  • Sobriquet Sex Switch: Judy's legal name it turns out is Jeremy.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When meeting with the customs agent regarding her “obscene” book order, Frances manages to maintain her composure and speak in her usually stoic manner. But when the agent will not budge in his stance, Frances jumps up and screams, “LOOK! THE FUCKING SUPREME COURT HAS DECLARED THIS MATERIAL IS NOT OBSCENE!” Frances and Maggie are escorted out very shortly after.
  • Transparent Closet: Maggie is pretty obviously lesbian, though at first she thinks her family are completely oblivious. It turns out that her brother's aware early on (he saw her having sex with Kim on the couch) then her mom too figures it out when she finds them together wearing only their lingerie getting up hurriedly from bed. Because of this, Maggie never specifically has to come out in the end with them, and both are accepting of her sexuality.
  • Trans Tribulations: Judy, a trans woman, hasn't been spoken to her family for a couple years when the film starts. She's thrilled to get a letter her parents sent, and get a house from them too. Later she sings about how she's not a drag queen, and to please call her "ma'am" not "sir". When in the women's bathroom at the club, she's harassed and assaulted by a cis women who gets outraged over her being there. She gets rescued by Maggie and Kim. Lila is later shocked to find out she's trans briefly, though she gets over it. Judy is later devastated to learn her parents got her the house not to reconcile, but to have her "go away". However, she's got close accepting friends and finds love with Frances in spite of her struggles.
  • Wall Bang Her: Maggie goes down on Kim in the club's sole working bathroom stall up against one side as a line of women are kept waiting (although they cheer them afterward).
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The movie ends on one, revealing how each of the main characters ended up.