Review: ‘Chinese Chocolate’

This insightful, acidic pic follows the fortunes and misfortunes of two intelligent and tallented women from mainland China who relocate to Toronto. Neatly structured and finely limned film should find niche bookings in cities with Chinese communities, and could also be in demand on the fest circuit.

This insightful, acidic pic follows the fortunes and misfortunes of two intelligent and tallented women from mainland China who relocate to Toronto. Neatly structured and finely limned film should find niche bookings in cities with Chinese communities, and could also be in demand on the fest circuit.

Writers and directors Yan Cui and Qi Chang take a sardonic look at life in a Westernized city wehere everyone seems to be on the make and where it’s almost impossible not to be cheated and betrayed. Men, whether Chinese or Western, are seen to be utterly untrustworthy, and, as the very opening sequence suggests, women may decide that the company of other women is a preferable option to a hetero lifestyle.

Jessie (Diana Peng) and Camille (Shirley Cui) arrive in Canada on the same flight from Beijing, but it’s a while before they actually meet. Jessie, a beauteous young student, is whisked off to a university dorm by a Chinese professor, Li, who almost immediately seduces her, though he turns out to be married. Unable to pay the rent, she later moves in with the sympathetic David; but he, too, exploits her, taking advantage of his elderly boss’s infatuation with her to improve his own prospects.

Camille, meanwhile, discovers that her husband was killed driving to meet her at the airport; she also finds out that he planned to leave her for another woman. She’s taken in by seemingly kindly Tony, a Westerner, who marries her when she gets pregnant, but who doesn’t stop seeing other women. Camille, a doctor back home, eventually manages to fulfill her desire to own a Chinese herb emporium, but discovers that yet another relationship, with the same Professor Li who seduced Jessie, is doomed to failure.

Peng and Cui are fine as the two put-upon femmes who eventually turn to one another for love and happiness. The male characters are mostly sterotyped, and are without exception useless or exploitative.

The low-budgeter makes good use of a variety of Toronto locations as backdrop to this tale of disappointment, frustration and, finally, it’s suggested, true love. Pic’s les bian is neatly understated. Production values are all fine.

Chinese Chocolate

(CANADIAN)

Production

A Good Choice Film Prods. Inc. production, made with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canadian Film Center. Produced by Stacey Donen, Qi Chang, Yan Cui, Executive producer, You Ming Cheng. Directed, written by Yan Cui, Qi Chang, based on the latter's novel "Luo Niao."

Crew

Camera (color), Michael Spicer, editor, Edmond Chan; music, George Shao-Qing Gao, Allan Mah; production design, Yan, Chang; sound, Steven Gorman, John Hazen; associate producers, Anne Szamosi, James Purcell; assistant director , William Hornecker. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (noncompeting), Aug. 30, 1995. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

With: Diana Peng, Shirley Cui, Bo % Want, Henry Wang, James Purcell, Fei Gao.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading