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This is the love story of Tita and Pedro. Their love story is not an average one. Tita, being the third of three daughters, is destined to stay at home and care for her mother, and concentrates on improving her cooking skills. Pedro falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage, but her mother refuses, offering him her sister, Rosauro, instead. Realising that Tita will never be free for marriage as long as her mother is alive, Pedro agrees, but only so that he can stay close to Tita. The couple have secret trysts, but once Rosauro has Pedro's child, Tita believes the relationship is over, and Pedro and Rosauro do move away shortly afterwards. Tita promises herself to someone else, although her heart is still with Pedro. Will she go ahead with the marriage? Will she and Pedro carry on with their relationship?
This is a Mexican film, directed by Alfonso Arau and made in 1992. However, the story is set probably towards the end of the nineteenth century and is based on a book by author Laura Esquivel (which I haven't read). Although love is the central thread, the story is very much told around the subject of food and much of the time is spent in the kitchen, with Tita and the kitchen staff chopping, stirring, arranging and even killing the livestock. There is also a magical element to it, very much along the same lines as Chocolat, that seems to suggest that Tita can weave her spell through the meals that she cooks. There is also another element where dead people seemingly come back to life and Tita speaks to them as if they were there. All this somehow takes the story one step above the average love story, although ultimately, I still felt it had its flaws.
Tita is played by Lumi Cavazos, an actress I have not come across before, although she did apparently appear in an episode of Friends and has a very respectable filmography. As the central character, she did need to be compelling, and she succeeded. Tita is a very understated character, at least to start with, she knows that she has a cross to bear and is prepared to do her duty. As the film progresses, however, she toughens up in a truly remarkable way. And when it is needed, Cavazos pulls out all the stops to pour her heart and soul into the character in such a moving way that it is impossible not to be deeply touched. Cavazos reminds me very much of a British actress called Sylvestra Le Touzel, who played Fanny Price in a 1983 adaptation of Mansfield Park. And in many ways, the stories have much in common - Fanny Price was also a down-trodden member of the family, doomed to be the one that takes care of everyone else. Cavazos is perfect in the role, both because of her acting skills and the way she looks.
I wasn't so impressed by Marco Leonardi, who plays Pedro. It's not that he's a bad actor, I just didn't fall for his charms for some reason. I guess many will think that it's terribly romantic that Pedro loves Tita and is willing to have a relationship with her sister just so that he can be close to her. Perhaps if he had been a better actor, I would have been convinced of it too. As it is, I found it all a bit disturbing. I don't doubt that the situation meant that was the only solution, but I still didn't like it and I just couldn't find myself warming to Pedro during the course of the film. I would much rather Tita had ended up with the man who wanted to marry her, who, although not as handsome, was an awful lot more pleasant. Leonardi left me cold, which I'm sure was not the aim of the director.
The other actors are good. There is a wonderful second sister, called Gertrudis, who, as a result of Tita's quail in rose petal sauce, gets so turned on that she runs off with a revolutionary. It sounds mad, and it certainly is quite funny, but actress Claudette Maille is perfectly suited for the role and keeps it from becoming a farce. Nasty Mama, played by Regina Torne, is suitably shrew-like, and lovely Esperanza, the kitchen maid (Sandra Arau), is adorable. Rosaura is played by Yareli Arizmendi and is alternately lovely and a pain in the butt. I have to admit I did feel very sorry for the character though - she was all too aware that her husband had only married her for the love of his sister and I think I would have become shrewish in the same position.
Love stories are not my favourite genre of film; in fact, I usually steer well clear unless there is plenty of humour mixed in with it too. However, this came so highly recommended that I had to give it a try. On the whole, I'm glad I did. Ultimately, it is a rather unbelievable love story, mixed in with lots of images of food and a dash of magic, yet the story is told well on the whole and the visuals do make it an awful lot better than other films. I also liked both the historical and the geographical touches, which was rather refreshing. I know nothing of Mexico in that particular period, but my interest has certainly been piqued and I would like to read the book on which the film is based.
I wasn't really sure how the film was going to end, mainly because there was enough going on in the film to keep my interest from wandering. However, the ending was quite a surprise and a very good way to finish the film. The story of Tita and Pedro is also bookended by Tita's Great Niece, another food lover, who is clearly deeply proud of Aunt Tita. She starts the story by narrating Tita's birth, before the actors take over, and then ends it by saying how much she loves Tita and her own mother, Tita's niece and Pedro's daughter. This makes it all seem that bit more authentic.
The cinematography is quite spectacular. There aren't many shots of the great outdoors at all, but there are an awful lot of food and people. I loved the way that the camera concentrated on the actors' faces, particularly Cavazos', who managed to tell a million stories with just tiny facial expressions. Mama was just the opposite - her facial expressions were very exaggerated, without being too over the top, and she looked positively scary at times. And the concentration on food was amazing, dwelling on it for just long enough to make your mouth water, but without becoming boring. There are obvious comparisons to draw with Chocolat; also The Scent of Green Papaya, which is a Vietnamese film also concentrating on food.
There are no extras to speak of with the DVD - just a trailer. The film is in Spanish and is therefore subtitled. The subtitles were always clear, and, although there was a great deal of talking in the film, I found them very easy to follow.
Apart from the fact that this was a love story I couldn't quite buy into, I did enjoy this film. It was certainly never boring and visually, it was very pleasing. Of course, the subtitles will put some people off, which I think is a great shame. If you don't mind subtitles and do like a good love story, I think you'll probably thoroughly enjoy it, especially if you liked Chocolat. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for
Classification: 15 (for mild sex scenes)
Running time: 105 minutes
I was able to read the book because its a subject requirement when I was still studying, and I admit that I don't really read books or English novel in particular. Reading the book at first is just an obligation for me to be able to coupe up with that subject, but in the end I found myself hooked with the story. The book is written by Ms. Laura Esquivel, she's a Mexican writer, later on to understand more of the book, our professor made us watch the movie version of the book.
The story is about Tita, her family and her love her life Pedro. The family tradition forbidden her to marry Pedro, she is obligated to take care of her parents until they die. And because Pedro loves her, he decided to marry her older sister just to get closer to her, Tita is a great cook and so her cooking is affected by the way she feels, and the people who eat it. Because of Pedro's decision, things became more complicated up to the time Pedro and her sister's son was born. As the situation became worst, to the death of Pedro's son, Tita gone crazy and was force to put in an asylum. Inside the mental health center she met Mr. John Brown, John took care of her and helped her, as she was starting a new life being with John anoher tragedy occur that made her go back to the ranch or to her mother's house. With her come, back another twist and turn happened that lead to her love to Pedro, in another world.
Actually I don't know or I'm not familiar with the actors or actress in the movie but they did a great job portraying there roles.
I truly understand why our professor made us watch the movie,the fact that we student are lazy to read the book...LOL The story has a relevant to an everyday life of a women, for what I understand is about being suppressed for what she feels and how she will manage her life. Laura Esquivel made a good and unique story here, as someone who can cook, I truly believe that when you cook what you feel reflects on the food that you prepare and the outcome will be seen on the people who eat the food. Its a great feeling to cook for someone, whether if its your friend, your family or someone you love, but it has to be prepared with lots of enthusiasm and sincerity. I think its not just about cooking it is in general, love what you do, do it with all your heart and with all your sincerity.
Cooking here is just another side the story can offer, the romantic lovestory of TIta and Pedro is beyond the food that she cooks. For me, Tita's love for Pedro and vice versa shows that LOVE lies with destiny. No matter wherever you go or whatever happens if the two person are destined with each other, time, tears, and distance is just an obstacle that they have to go through. Although there's a twist in the ending I still believe that its still LOVE that binds them.
Made and set in Mexico LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE tells the story of Tita and Pedro, who are in love at the beginning of the 20th century, but are not allowed to marry each other. Instead Pedro marries Tita's sister in order to be near to her, but Tita's passions have to be ignored.
Instead Tita cooks a lot. And I mean a lot. And that cooking is at the core of the film. After seeing this film I wanted to go and eat some Mexican food, it was so important to the film.
Played by Lumi Cavazos and Marco Leonardi repectively, Tita and Pedro are very believable characters and the actors portray the roles very effectively. The director Alfonso Arau did a fantastic job in translating Laura Esquivel's novel into a film and I would highly recommend it. The DVD is available from Amazon UK for under £7 although sadly it features no extras other than a trailer.
Expect to be very hungry (and perhaps amorous) after watching this contemporary classic in the small genre of food movies that includes Babette's Feast and Big Night. Director Alfonso Arau (A Walk in the Clouds), adapting a novel by his former wife, Laura Esquivel, tells the story of a young woman (Lumi Cavazos) who learns to suppress her passions under the eye of a stern mother, but channels them into her cooking. The result is a steady stream of cuisine so delicious as to be an almost erotic experience for those lucky enough to have a bite. The film's quotient of magic realism feels a little stock, but the story line is good and Arau's affinity for the sensuality of food (and of nature) is sublime. You might want to rush off to a good Mexican restaurant afterward, but that's a good thing. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com