Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2013)

Plot Overview

Warren Thompson is a lonely ice-cream van driver who is obsessed with a TV soap actress, Katey George. He parks his van at the same spot every day (close to a drug dealer who bullies him), comes home, watches Round the Block and masturbates to fantasies of Katey. When she visits his van one day, he acquires a video camera and records video diaries about his past and his hopes for the future, as his obsession begins to spiral out of control.

Review

I was expecting more of a horror film going into this, but found it was really more of a black comedy with some horror elements. We follow Warren Thompson as he goes about a regular day and he’s obviously a very lonely man and possibly a little crazy. He’s very soft-spoken and has a limp, and fits the mold of an introverted character that’s going to go off the rails at any moment. It’s somewhat cliche, but Maynard’s performance prevents it from feeling that way. His performance is by far the strongest aspect of the film. I was so convinced at his mild-mannered Warren, that when he goes into a fantasy sequence and is portraying a ‘regular dude’, I had to do a double take that it was even him. Whether he’s distraught, angry, starting to go crazy, or deliriously happy you can see it in every inch of his face – particularly his eyes. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him in the future.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really take advantage of this and go into any real depth about his psychological condition. The build-up is rather drawn out and while Maynard gets to show off some acting chops, there’s not much more there. There’s a lot that can be done with themes of loneliness and obsession – two themes which I’m particularly interested in – but it’s quite superficial in its exploration. I can’t pinpoint the things that maybe should’ve been left out and what they should’ve been replaced with but it always felt like something was missing. There were a few subplots that could’ve been developed a little more or dealt with slightly differently – his relationship with Ruby, for example. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film; there were a lot of nice moments and I wanted to see what happened, but I just wish there was more. The end also didn’t really feel like a conclusion to anything; it just sort of ended.

Summary

It’s an entertaining, though slow-paced, dark comedy about loneliness and obsessiveness that’s really held together by a very strong performance by the lead. Instead of going over-the-top as some actors might’ve, he portrays Warren as a vulnerable and highly sympathetic person that makes you wish you could reach through the screen and help him. Despite the fact that it only really superficially looks at its themes (though with apparent genuine warmth), there is also a lot that’s worth watching. It’s well shot and doesn’t look or feel like a low budget film at all. The opening credit sequence was also quite nice.


Rating: 6/10

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