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Brazilian chef Isabella Oliveira moves to San Francisco when her husband, frustrated by her motion sickness, cheats on her.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Isabella Oliveira (as Penelope Cruz)
Monica Jones (as Harold Perrineau Jr.)
Alex Reeves (as John De Lancie)
TV Director
Claudia Hunter
Analu De Castro ...
Little Isabella - Age 2
Thais De Sá Curvelo ...
Little Isabella - Age 5
Eliana Guttman ...
Isabella's Mother
Eduardo Mattedi ...
Isabella's Father
Ana Paula Oliveira ...
Marilice Santos ...
Sexy Neighbor
Giba Conceição ...
Troubadour #1
Joaquim Pinto ...
Troubadour #2


Isabella is a great cook, making her husband's restaurant in Bahia, Brazil, a success. To control her motion sickness, she must do the driving and be on top during sex, which drives her macho husband, Toninho, to infidelities. Heart-broken, she leaves for San Francisco, moving in with her childhood friend, Monica, a cross-dresser. To mend her heart, she makes an offering to Yemanja, the goddess of the sea. The goddess responds: Isabella no longer loves and the fish in Bahia no longer bite. Stricken, Toninho heads north to get her back; he finds her hosting a popular TV show, Passion Food, courted by its producer. Can he learn humility? Can she find happiness without him? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


a sexy, delicious fairy tale See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

22 September 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Las mujeres arriba  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,008,191 (USA) (22 September 2000)


$5,018,450 (USA) (24 November 2000)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All interiors for the San Francisco scenes were shot in soundstages in Brazil. See more »


Cliff's shirt and tie in Isabella's apartment. See more »


Toninho: [explaining to his wife why he cheated on her] Isabella! Isabella! I'm a man! I have to be on top SOMETIMES!
See more »


References Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) See more »


Aquarela do Brasil
Written by Ary Barroso
Performed by Katia Moraes (as Kátia Moraes) and Sambaguru
Produced by Bill Brendle
See more »

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User Reviews

Very nice, colorful, funny movie! (with a sexy Murilo Benicio and a sensual Penelope Cruz)
12 July 2004 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

I saw "Woman on top" yesterday and I found it very nice. It's a very funny story set first in Bahia (Brazil) and then in San Francisco, when Isabella (Penelope Cruz) became a TV star in a TV program about food. Penelope Cruz is very good in the role but it would be better if the role of Isabella was given to a brazilian actress (like for example Giovanna Antonelli, who would be perfect for the role), because a Spanish actress, even if she is good, who plays a sensual brazilian cook do not sound such well. Murilo Benicio (Toninho), one of the best brazilian young actors, is very good, very funny and so handsome and sexy! The story is very colorful and the music is beautiful, with many brazilian bossa nova hits like "Aquarela do Brasil" and "Vocè". The idea of Isabella having a best friend who is a drag queen is very good and also the idea of the TV program about the passion in brazilian cooking is excellent (and it remembers the role of the sensual cook Dona Flora played by Sonia Braga in "Dona Flor and her two husbands" by Bruno Barreto). If you want to feel the passion, the color, the music of Brazil, you have to watch this movie, even if, I repeat again, a brazilian actress would be better for the main role. I give it a 7.

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