Movie Review: Like Water for Chocolate (1992)


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge by watching and reviewing some of my favorite movies of all time that I haven’t watched in a long time. This post contains SPOILERS!

Title: Like Water for Chocolate
Release Date: April 16, 1992
Director: Alfonso Arau
Production Company: Miramax
Synopsis:

A friend of mine said that watching this movie made her “hungry and horny at the same time.” That’s a good summary of the magical realistic comedy-drama based on the novel by Laura Esquivel.

In the early 20th century, in northeastern Mexico, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) grows up with the knowledge that her family tradition expects her as the youngest daughter to never marry.  Instead, her strict Mama Elena (Regina Torné) expects Tita to care for her in her old age on their family ranch. Tita learns the art of cooking from the elderly family cook, Nacha (Ada Carrasco).

When Tita and a young man named Pedro (Marco Leonardi) form a mutual attraction, Mama Elena rejects his marriage proposal.  Instead he marries Tita’s eldest sister Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi) since it will allow him to be close to Tita.  Tita’s emotions are magically transferred into the meals she cooks leading to incidents such as everyone at Rosaura and Pedro’s wedding feeling the sadness of lost love and later when Pedro gives her roses and everyone feels arousal.

The movie takes place over several decades as Tita and Pedro need to hide their forbidden love and Tita stands up to her mother.  The movie is framed by Tita’s grand-niece in the present day narrating the story around the recipes in Tita’s cookbook.

When Did I First See This Movie?:

I saw it at the local arthouse cinema around the time it came out.

What Did I Remember?:

I remembered three details clearly:

  • a naked woman running from a burning outhouse and jumping on a horse with a soldier.
  • a woman trailing a very long blanket behind a horse-drawn carriage.
  • the special ingredient in her cooking is love.

What Did I Forget?:

Pretty much everything else.

What Makes This Movie Great?:

This movie strikes the right balance of magical, comical, and dramatic.  It explores a lot of issues through a whimsical story such as family, tradition, and gender.

What Doesn’t Hold Up?:

Considering that this movie features a women-lead cast with men as side characters, depicts Mama Elena as a strong woman running a remote ranch on her own, and offers Tita as a more compassionate alternate version of strong womanhood, I’d say that it was ahead of its time in many ways.  It still feels very fresh to me event though the story took place over 100 years ago.

Is It a Classic?:

Yes, I think so.

Rating: ****

5 more all-time favorite movies starting with L:

  1. Laura (1944)
  2. Lifeboat (1944)
  3. The Little Mermaid (1989)
  4. Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100 (1999)
  5. Lost in La Mancha (2002)

What is your favorite movie starting with L?  Any guesses for my M movie (Hint: it features a great quest)? Let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Like Water for Chocolate (1992)

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