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This film is a palette for the taste buds, a feast for the eyes and an
awakening for the romance. In Spanish with English subtitles, Like Water
Chocolate has nothing to do with water or chocolate but rather the magical
qualities of food when you put love into the cooking. Its romantic,
dramatic and very funny and highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Perhaps it is fortunate that I saw "Como agua para chocolat" before I read
the novel on which it was based; too often I hear criticism of the film not
living up to the book, and feel badly for the viewers who were so busy
comparing the two in their minds that they were unable to enjoy what was,
for me, one of the best cinematic experiences of my life.
I learned from "Como agua para chocolat" that American movies are constrained by their existence in a single genre. This film is a drama, an achingly tragic romance, a lighthearted comedy, and a fairy tale. It gives equal screen time to each element, without gravity during the "realistic" scenes nor too much levity during the "fantasy" sequences. It tells the story of Tita, the youngest daughter of a wealthy landowning Mexican family, whose fate according to tradition is to care for her mother and live a spinster's life. [Spoilers follow.] It is Tita's misfortune to fall in love with - and be loved by - a man she cannot have; he chooses to marry her eldest sister in order to be able to remain in the house with her. The film follows Tita through this pain, her mental breakdown, her return to sanity and her displaced love for her American doctor, who she later marries. It threatens to climax with a happy ending we know we don't deserve, and even when it turns dark, we're left with a sense all the main characters got exactly what they wanted in the end. In an American movie, these actions would either have consequences (and therefore be a drama), or they'd be farcical (and it would be a romantic comedy). Alfonso Arau gives us a history lesson, told with Laura Esquivel's wry wit and deep emotion.
The cinematography and direction are also outstanding; sweeping Mexican landscapes ground the film in both time and place while reverence is paid to the traditions that form the basis of the story. An achingly beautiful sequence details the dressing of the marriage bed for Tita's sister and her new husband. Later, Tita's madness is gently revealed when she is shown staying awake nights knitting a blanket, and is later carted away to a sanitarium wrapped in that same blanket, which trails behind her horse-drawn carriage well beyond the edge of the frame.
Some of the cinematography is lost when reading the subtitles with the film, but I strongly recommend watching this DVD with English subtitles (rather than the English dub) if you do not speak Spanish. There is a richness of delivery in the Spanish dialogue that does not translate in the dub.
I read Laura Equivel's novel several years after I first saw this film, and cooking plays a much greater part in the novel than the film. However, I believe the film wisely centers on the human emotion of its human protagonists, and I am glad the adaptation was in the original author's hands. She knew what she was up to all along.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most favorably reviewed and box-office successful foreign
language films ever distributed in the United States, "Like Water for
Chocolate" was the collaborative product of Mexican actor/director
Alfonso Arau ("El Guapo" to fans of "Three Amigos") and his wife, Laura
Esquivel, author of both the film's screenplay and the novel it was
adapted from. Like the novel, the film's narrative materials show the
heavy influence of "magic realism," a Latin American style of
storytelling first popularized in North America and Europe in the late
1960s through the translation of the novels of Nobel laureate, Gabriel
Garcia Marquez, especially his masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of
As with other works of magic realism, "Like Water for Chocolate" blends elements of realism, dream, and myth to create a world whose surface is mundane but where the fantastic emerges regularly and matter-of-factly. Much of the magic in "Like Water for Chocolate" is linked to cooking, an ordinary feminine domestic activity that becomes a powerful, preternatural vehicle for unleashing the heroine Tita's creativity and passion, both of which are repressed by the machismo culture and absurd female-binding traditions of early twentieth century Mexico.
Befitting the story's origins in the romance genre, passion is at the center of "Like Water for Chocolate." Indeed, the Spanish phrase "como agua para chocolate" is purportedly a familiar Mexican expression describing a person who is about to boil over with sexual desire. (The American expression "hornier than a hoot owl" is a non-culinary - and rather less romantic - equivalent metaphor.) Passion - its expression, repression, or absence - shapes not only Tita's life and marriage, but also the characterizations of the intimidating Mama Elena and of Tita's sisters, Rosaura and Gertrudis, contrasting foils in the matter of female sexuality. Rosaura is bound by paternalistic traditions of restraint and denial while Gertrudis becomes literally inflamed by sexual desire along with adapting a pre-feminist political assertiveness and egalitarianism.
Supporting the unfolding of this Mexican Cinderella tale, the cinematography of "Like Water for Chocolate" exhibits great range and beauty, by turns subtle and breathtaking. The film's lighting styles and color palette are equally effective either in establishing the fable-like mood of the stark Coahuila Desert or in detailing the more realistic ranch house where many of the interior scenes are set.
Topping all, of course, are the set pieces of Tita's sumptuous meals, endless quilt, and fiery bed, unforgettable images through which her sexual being is triumphantly expressed.
I expected to like this from what I was told by friends, but it failed as
piece of magical realism and ends up being both goofy and boring. Filled
with disgusting offhand comments, bizarre circumstances and completely
unlikable characters, I was wondering what people saw in
It is pathetic when a women who runs down the road naked, becomes a prostitute and then later turns into a general in the Mexican army is the most realistic character. The rest are just one note characters who never develop into anything.
In other movies which use food as a device, the food serves to bring people together and express something about the characters who made it. In eat, Drink, Man, Woman it is food that holds the family together but is just eye-candy without real flavor until the family is allowed to grow naturally then it turns into a feast. In The Big Night, the fantastic dishes that emerge from the kitchen are not only a great feast but also express the joys that hope can bring.
In this movie, the food is only a symbolic device. It fails to nourish anything.
Unless there is some unwritten law that dictates that ALL foreign imports should receive not just a favourable review but also the unflinching adoration and recommendation of movie critics, I simply don't understand all the fuss that was generated about LWFC. If you want to see a really good movie about women, food, love and life, please skip this one and watch Babette's Feast instead. The tragedy of LWFC is in the fact that its story and characters are too idiotic even to watch on the Satellite of Love. This turkey should come with a warning : If forced to watch, fake a headache and go to bed early.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie would certainly receive it. After reading the novel, I was really anticipating seeing the movie. The book has excellent imagery, and the plot is extremely captivating. As I was watching the movie, however, I noticed that some things did not make sense. First of all, the novel is just as much about food as it is about forbidden love. So much so that even the title involves food, and every single chapter is based around a certain recipe that is important to the De la Garza's family history. Then why is it that there are so few scenes involving food in the movie? When Tita makes the cake for Rosaura's wedding that makes everyone vomit, there is no visual depiction of her tears flowing into the frosting which is essential to the guests reaction to the cake. What happened to the wonderful description of this scene that is in the novel? Didn't the director find that at all necessary to the plot? I guess not. Another complaint I have is the awful use(and sometimes lack there-of) of magical realism that is described in the novel. Tita's birth is badly filmed and obviously fake. And what about the flood of tears Tita cries after Chencha gives her the ox-tail soup? That appears to also have been unimportant to the director to add into the film, even though it makes for such a touching scene in the novel. Finally, I find the depiction of the Mexican Revolution in the film completely offensive and uncalled for. The director made it seem like the Revolution was so fine and dandy, with the soldiers happily dancing and making cream- fritters. The horribly stereotypical Mariachi music played whenever the soldiers come on camera also makes the film seem quite ridiculous. You can really tell that Esquivel and the director of the film were catering to the Hollywood crowd and not to people who actually understand the seriousness of revolution and how important it was to Mexico. Overall,the bad acting, the telenovela-esque music, and the straying from the original plot made this movie in my opinion, a complete and utter disappointment.
Not too much I can add to the great reviews above. The cooking scenes
were very close to erotic for me and, apparently the rest of the
audience I saw it with. As the film moved along there were more and
more audible "yums" and other noises associated with a good meal.
At the end of the film there was a near stampede out of the theater and to the local restaurants. People were running to get there first! My friend and I quickly walked another block for our food. The place filled up rapidly. The host told us he hoped "that film stays there forever, it's almost doubled our business". How often have you been so moved by a film that you sprung into action the minute it was over? That alone puts it in my movie hall of fame.
I personally think that a movie was very dull, and did not meet the standards that were set by the book. When making this movie I thought that left out many of the important details that were in the book, for example the importance of food which was hardly shown throughout the film. Not one of he recipes were ever said which just made Tita's work seem like mindless acts, and never showed the love that was put into creating each one of the meals. This made the movie seem choppy which made each scene that they showed very short and incomplete. Also it was hard to picture many of the parts because where they supposedly using magical realism just didn't work. By reading this book you get a much better sense of what their family lifestyle was like, and how important food actually was to the family, then watching it on film. After watching this movie i would definitely choose reading the book.
This film had all the ingredients to be a great movie, however, it
never materialized on screen. With so many interesting characters, it
was disappointing that none of them except Tita connected in a
meaningful way and evoked much emotion from from me. Pedro was a prime
example of this. Instead of rooting for him, i found myself not only
disinterested in his wimpy character but actually disliking him
Again, i thought this film had a great premise, but failed to deliver on screen. i truly loved the magical realism, and thought the director should have focused more on Titas ability to connect to people through food.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like Water for Chocolate is a movie that was directed by Alfonso Arau
in 1992 that is based on the novel written by Laura Esquivel. Like
Water for Chocolate is very interesting and different. For example,
there are several elements of magic and the two most important themes
of love and the journey of growing up revolve around the script. The
main character is a young girl named Tita and the movie tells the
entire store of her life. The movie begins with her birth and ends with
her death. Most of the magical elements come about through Tita's
cooking. Tita loves to cook! Her life is very sheltered because her
mother, Dona Elena, is very strict; therefore cooking is the way in
which Tita displays her true emotions.
Like Water for Chocolate is about a girl named Tita and her family. Tita is the youngest daughter of her mother, Dona Elena, and because of this status and an old family tradition, Tita is not allowed to marry. Instead, Tita's life duty is to care for her mother until her mother dies. Tita does not approve of this rule, but throughout her youth Tita is always very obedient. However when Pedro, Tita's childhood crush, asks for her hand in marriage, many problems begin. Due to Tita's family tradition of her not being able to marry, Pedro instead marries Rosaura, Tita's older sister, so that he can be close to Tita. Throughout the movie Tita grows as a woman and learns who she really is. She finally stops obeying her mother and decides to live her own life. She becomes more vocal and stops only expressing her feelings through her food, she has a relationship with a doctor named John Brown, and tells her sister off about what happened with Pedro. At the end of the movie, Tita and Pedro finally get to be together. This shows that true love is forever, and what will be will be. The plot is very interesting and true about life. It shows the difficulties and joys of changing from a young girl into a woman. It shows the marvelous journey of finding out who you are. Like Water for Chocolate is a story that is not only about love, but also about the personal growth of a woman. In the beginning, Tita is very nice and very obedient. So much so that even when the love of her life, Pedro, marries her sister Rosaura, Tita remains silent and obedient to her mother. However, as time goes on Tita becomes more independent and begins to make her own decisions, even about her lover Pedro. In Like Water for Chocolate, Alfonso Arau paints a marvelous picture of this transition and of the strong love that exists between Tita and Pedro. The actors and very believable and the music is very emotional moving. For example, when Tita cooks, her emotions can be felt by the audience. Like Water for Chocolate, is a very good and interesting movie. It shows the journey of a woman from birth to death. The audience sees Tita grow up right in front of their eyes. It is a story that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. It definitely shows that love conquers all and that growing up is a wonderful learning process. It is truly a movie that is worth seeing.
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