Like Water for Chocolate (1992)

As happened with last week's film, I stumbled upon Like Water for Chocolate while I was searching for foreign language romantic movies. I haven't seen much of Mexican cinema so I thought I'd give this one a try. 

In a small village in Mexico, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) and Pedro (Marco Leonardi) fall in love. Dona Elena (Regina Torné), Tita's mother, won't allow the marriage because Tita is the youngest daughter and the family tradition says that the youngest daughter can't get married and has to take care of her mother until she dies. Pedro so decides to marry Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi), Tita's older sister, which is the only way he has to stay close to her. Forced to bake her sister's wedding cake, Tita discovers she has a unique talent for cooking: all who eat her food feel the way she feels.

I haven't read Laura Esquivel's novel upon which the film is based on, but my knowledge of Spanish literature tells me that this is a pretty common story. Nevertheless, at first, the plot is quite interesting and captivating. After a while though, all the charms wear off. The poorly developed story gets tedious and almost unbearable.

The romance between Tita and Pedro isn't anything special either. There are passion and lust, at first, and each glance exchanged between Tina and Pedro transpires their love. You can really tell they love each other. The problem is the lack of a back story. We don't get to know how they met, what made them fall in love --the whole notion of falling in love at first sight without knowing anything about the other, and asking that someone for marriage immediately, just doesn't convince me--, we don't see their love blossom, so we are never given a reason to root for their love.

Miramax Films
Another flaw of this film is the food. As I mentioned above, I haven't read the novel so I don't know who is to be blamed, whether the novelist or the screenwriter, but Like Water for Chocolate does a very poor job in depicting food's role in the story. In Eat, Drink, Man, Woman food is a brilliant plot device, it's the glue that keeps together the characters. Here, it doesn't deliver much. It's just a symbol. The food preparation, on the other hand, although there's very little of it, it's very beautiful.

The characters are probably the film's only redeeming quality. Although they are pretty one-dimensional --the tyrannical, evil mother (Elena), the rebel daughter (Tita), the free-spirited daughter (Gertrudis, Tita's other sister), the boring daughter (Rosaura), the Casanova (Pedro), the comforting servant and the calm doctor-- they are quite interesting, especially the women and their strong personalities, Tita's mother easily being the most effective thanks to a superb performance from Regina Torné.

Now that I think about it, the film has a few others redeeming qualities, the gorgeous cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), a beautiful-ish musical score (it doesn't always work) and the stunning Mexican scenery. 


  1. It's been a long time since I've seen the film as I think I have it in my never-ending DVR list as it's time to re-watch. Notably because of Chivo who is my favorite cinematographer.