Recommended to take along someone you love.
Woman on Top (2000)
User ReviewsReview this title
Recommended to take along someone you love.
Penelope Cruz shines in the leading role; she's drop dead gorgeous and gives an irresistible performance. Benicio, also, initiates flutters in the hearts of any female viewers with his charming persona. The movie has many humorous plot elements (a cross-dresser, catty television employees) that keep the plot interesting. Those seeking an entertaining movie with charm and chuckles will be delighted to happen upon this lesser known movie.
The annoying part isn't the actors, it's the script. In this story, you can pray - and get a positive response - to the "sea goddess" - while other ridiculous curses and superstitions abound. Also, a lead character in here - portrayed as perfectly normal - is a transvestite. Despite these strange doings, the film has charm and beautiful, bold colors to it. If only the story wasn't so stupid.
The story may be light and the script may be pedestrian, but the direction and camera work suffuse this film with Latin American magical realism and that keeps it lighthearted and fun. Cruz is terrific, Perrineau is the true star of the show displaying a sophisticated and sensitive acting skill that is very special, and Murilo Benício is not only a hunk and eye candy but also a fine singer and a warm actor who deserves a lot of attention. Story five, stars six. Have fun with this one! Grady Harp, March 06
It is at this point that I ought to inform you that in the proceeding paragraphs, there are comments which may reveal elements of the plot of this film, such as it is.
In the hour or so that I managed to stomach of this unrelentingly vapid film, the plot barely managed to limp forward from its starting point. The characters were not developed beyond their appearances. The primary character, a female chef from Brazil who moves to San Francisco after the breakdown of her marriage, and all her actions, seem based solely on her aesthetic appeal. Indeed, this is also one of the few sources of the tired humour present in the film. These comedic moments are, without exception, crude and desperately unfunny. Listless slapstick moments rub shoulders with endless scenes of men drooling over the young Brazilian woman and staring in disbelief at her transvestite friend, evidently present to add some essential uniqueness to the film and because, as everyone is aware, anyone who lives in San Francisco is either an intellectual or a transvestite.
Cinema, without doubt, has huge potential as a medium for artistic expression, and there are independent films that are intelligent, well-made and engaging. However, Woman on Top, in striving desperately to be a mainstream success, sacrifices any shred of dignity or integrity one could hope to see in a film. Thus, and in sum, it is nothing more than a lazily made, dim-witted film, painfully unfunny and, if taken as an indication of the drift of independent movies (which, incidentally, I don't think, or at least hope, it is) rather worrying, and certainly sickening.
The music was great, the story was a bit cheesy but refreshing. Open your eyes to other cultures. Allow yourself to enjoy the simple things such as cooking. I think it was sensual, funny and refreshing.
I think Penelope Cruz did a great job. Having seen most of her movies, I can say that her best movies are the ones that are not overly popular. Woman on top gives women the opportunity to be successful and show men that we can do it.
I don't know who the target audience of this film is; surely today's moviegoing young women know that a woman deserves better than to be stashed away in the kitchen; and surely they know that "educating" a boyfriend or husband is a difficult task (if at all achievable), requiring more than running away to fashionable S.F. and applying some hocus-pocus. Perhaps the film is aimed at men, who get an extended chance to drool at Penelope Cruz, who indeed looks lovely and "fetching". As for myself, I'd rather watch this lovely actress in better films, such as All About My Mother.
It's a shame. All the elements were there for a nice story. But instead of the leading lady trusting herself on her own, she digresses back to her old flame because he sang to her.
Cruz is incredibly lovely. She is luminescent. Neither guy measures up. Toninho is a womanizing Latino stereotype. Feuerstein is not a good leading man. Cliff has a bit of weasel and he's not worthy of her. The ending is horrible. Cruz simply glows and her character deserves better.
Everything else about this movie is poor.
It's a romantic comedy so I expected a love-lost-and-found plot line. But the premise of Isabella's break up with her husband Toninho is mind-bogglingly awful. Isabella suffers from motion sickness and so she likes to be on top when making love. Toninho, with the excuse that men 'need to be on top sometimes', sneaks away at night to have an affair, which Isabella discovers.
But Isabella's love for Toninho is so strong (even after the affair), that she has to call down a curse from the Brazilian god Yemanja, to end her love. It's a terrible story line. Toninho is impossible to relate to as a result, even when he tracks down Isabella and sings her love songs to try and win her back. What makes it worse is that the chemistry between them is pretty unconvincing. The supposed animal passion is unevident.
There are moments of gentle humour in the movie that delight momentarily. Isabella trying to make out to another man while Toninho sings Portugese songs through her answering machine was one that stuck with me. But overall, this is not a good movie.
She has the energy, the charm, the passion that is Penélope Cruz, and she makes eating seem like the most fantastic thing on Earth.
She splits from her husband (Murilo Benício) and heads to San Francisco to take up residence with her best friend Monica (Harold Perrineau). She gets a TV gig after being seen by a producer (Mark Feuerstein).
Now, her husband has found her and works to get her back. Of course, the producer is also after her, and Monica is working both men to improve them and make them worthy.
With a stirring soundtrack featuring the music of Toquinho, Paulinho Mosca, Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, and more.
News Flash. Penelope Cruz just isn't a very good actress. I haven't seen her give a good performance yet in the 3 or 4 films of hers I've watched. Hopefully she can do better than this. She simply doesn't have the charisma to carry a film. Enough said.
Supposedly this is a fairy tale about a woman who strikes out on her own when she catches her husband cheating on her. Actually this is more like a poorly written soap opera than a fairy tale. The movie never finds the right balance between fantasy and reality. There are so many idiotic plot contrivances in this film that you'll find yourself laughing with incredulity.
You can see it in the eyes of the performers: what am I doing in this stupid movie? And you'll be asking yourself: what am I doing watching this insipid film. 70/100. Not a memorable film.
Isabella also developed a keen cooking ability, more like "fabulous" and just the scent of her food drives men crazy. She and her husband have a very successful restaurant where she cooks and he "entertains". She leaves Brazil and moves in with a friend in S.F. after she finds her husband cheating on her, after all he "has to be on top" occasionally. She has a voodoo lady cast a spell so she won't love her husband anymore. She gets discovered and has an immediate hit TV cooking show. The young producer tries hard for her hand but he really is too much of a nerd.
Her husband doesn't give up. He recognizes his "mistake" and follows her to S.F. and keeps trying until he makes amends, but she still has to reverse the spell to be able to love her husband again.
The film is very well done and both funny and genuinely entertaining. I cannot understand how so any viewers rated it anything under 5 or 6, which many did. My rating of "7" is a very solid one, similar in overall enjoyment to films like "Return to Me" or "Forces of Nature" or "Hope Floats". I saw it on DVD and the surround sound was used very effectively. The Latin flavor music throughout was also very nice.
About ten years ago, Demi Moore -- then being pushed as sexy -- tried a similar film: "The Butcher's Wife." Also rancid.
I can just hear the pitch: Latin magical realism meets food and sex; we'll go lush and have a date-movie ending as the girl faces her real values. Lots of gay humor...can't miss. We don't need to waste money on A-list writers and directors since we've got Penelope.
I hear a third of this movie was cut so that they could squeak it past the test audiences. Too bad. As Jennifer Lopez shows, a pretty nonactor Latin can be pretty much fun in film ("Out of Sight"). Bossa Nova (actually this music is more the samba from the south of Brazil) has real appeal (Try "Tango" for a Latin music success). There's lots of possibilities in food (try "Eat, Drink, Man Woman") in sex and and in magic. How could they miss? Poor writing, directing and acting.
Penelope Cruz is on the cusp of major movie stardom with several films in the can coming out this year and in her latest she is this close to being a household name.
Cruz, the gorgeous Spanish actress best known as a repertoire player in Pedro Almodovar's outrageously romantic films, in her first starring American role, plays Isabella Oliveira, the Brazilian, sexy, beleagured wife of hunky restaurateur Toniho (Benicio), and works in their caliente cocina (or hot kitchen) as a chef to be reckoned with, preparing with earnestness and blood, sweat and tears while he shamelessly flirts with the female clientele.
Isabella also sustains a unique, seemingly Hollywoodized psychosomatic condition that causes motion sickness to the nth degree whenever she is not in control - driving a car or as the title refers to, being on top sexually - which leads to her frustrated husband into the arms of another woman she catches him sleeping with. When he explains to her that as a man he HAS to be on top sometimes only fuels her sadness to leave him and jets off to the United States, specifically San Fransisco, where she first becomes a culinary instructor and reunites with her transvestite recently paroled best friend Monica Jones (Perrineau, best known as the paralyzed Greek chorus in HBO's `Oz' prison series), who offers her his/her undivided attention.
Her sensuous cooking soon takes over the community and in one of the film's infinitely fablistic ways has Isabella walking along the street with a phalanx of enamored army of men a la the Pied Piper of Hamelin. One of the bewitched, beguiled and bewildered is eager beaver tv producer Cliff Lloyd (Feurestein, late of tv sitcom `Conrad Bloom' and semi-regular on `Once and Again') and on the spot offers the fair Isabella a gig as a tv cooking personality.
Immediately he is smitten and also finagles his ratings crazed station manager to accept the saucy chef. Overnight Isabella becomes a sensation sending the city in a tailspin of hooked viewers including a local bar of tough looking mugs including her Toniho, who has treked to San Fran searching desperately for his beloved regretting big time for cheating on her.
Unbeknownst to Toniho, Isabella has sought council in a black magic offering to a sea god to fall out of love with him. Clearly he has his work out for him and the remainder of the film has him reuniting with a reluctant Isabella (who winds up working with him after he pulls an on-air stunt of serenading her with his traveling minstrels; only in the movies!)
While the scenes of her cooking class will melt hearts and endear her to American audiences, the comedic moments she embodies so well are the real class of this picture. I'm just wondering if some TV station hasn't tried this formula somewhere? I really enjoyed this picture right up to the point where the requisite dark blue TV suits get in the way of more fun and originality. The rest of the movie kind of tiptoed away a little too carefully.
Anyway, hats off to Ms. Cruz in an endearing and auspicious first 'American' film role and to Harold Perriman Jr. who has extended the size range and taste of women's wear. I would like to have seen more of their shenanigans and 'girltalk'.
I would definitely recommend this film for a multi-couple date night. Think of the delightfully varied and opinionated conversation over expensive cappuccinos afterward.
It was not even a good romance story.
The characters are sizzling cool and quirky enough to be humanly interesting. It is a timeless story of hope... most of all a love story about a woman loosing her love of her soul-mate, yet by following a somewhat funny path (away from him) she finds that the love returns and she owns it again.
And I challenge ANYONE (man or woman) to watch this cute little movie and not fall just completely in love with Penelope Cruz. Beautiful and sweet doesn't do it - she is, instead, absolutely mesmerizing.