Picks and Pans Review: Strawberry and Chocolate

updated 02/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jorge Perrugoria, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra

Set in Cuba, this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film limns 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 best when it forsakes its political agenda for 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 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. (R)

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