Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
May 29, 2001
Review by BrianKoller
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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Perhaps the best known film from Mexico, Like Water for Chocolate became an international critical and commercial success during the spring of 1993. The film combined romance, cuisine and early twentieth century Mexican culture into a heady brew of magic and eroticism.
The story was based on a novel by Laura Esquivel, who also adapted the screenplay. Tita (Lumi Cavazos) is raised by a stern, shrewish widow Elena (Regina Torne) who forbids her to marry. Tita is satisfied with helping servant Nacha (Ada Carrasco) prepare meals, at least until hunky Pedro (Marco Leonardi) shows up.
Pedro proclaims his undying love to Tita, then promptly marries her plain sister, Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi). He does this to be close to Tita, whom he is refused permission to marry. Tita is eventually courted by a gentle and an amazingly understanding doctor (Mario Ivan Martinez). But for some reason, she still prefers the selfish, shallow, and unavailable Pedro.
A recurring theme is the cooking of Tita, whose emotions are expressed through her food. This works well for sister Gertrudis. After tasting Tita's recipe for quail with rose petals, she elopes in dramatic fashion with a revolutionary soldier.
But when Tita is angry, you'd be better off ordering a pizza instead. Tita's cooking leads to the deaths of several of the supporting players, especially those who stand in the way of her would-be union with Pedro. And she seems like such a nice woman!
You may detect some cynicism in my plot summary. Admittedly, Like Water for Chocolate is a very good film. The story is interesting, and the direction is well done (if slowly paced).
But the characters often annoyed me. Mama Elena is every daughter's worst nightmare, while Tita indecisively strings along the good doctor for years. Plot resolutions seem unlikely even before the surreal finale, with Gertrudis becoming a revolutionary general, and the doctor's son graduating from Harvard with a law degree.
My annoyance may be based partly on demographics. At imdb.com, the film's user ratings are much higher for women than for men. Personally, I spent the film feeling sorry for Rosaura and not Tita, whom we are supposed to be shedding the tears for.
Surprisingly, Like Water for Chocolate was not nominated for any Oscars, not even for Best Foreign Language Film. It did receive Golden Globe and British Academy Award nominations in this category. The film swept all the major categories in Mexico, where it won ten Academy Awards. (73/100)
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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