LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE
(Como Agua Para Chocolate)
Like Water for Chocolate stirs an appealingly earthy blend of magic and heated emotion. Love is talked of in a way that is sweeping, absolute and all consuming. The spiritual cooking set-pieces are wonderfully done the wedding cake of sadness for ones true love lost; and especially the sequence with the quails cooked in rose petals that allow the two separated lovers to remotely express their suppressed passion for one another through one of the other sisters, culminating in the wonderfully surreal image of a shower bursting into flame as the sister bathes and the aroma carrying to the bandit who snatches her up onto his horse as she runs out into the desert naked. There is an amazing transcendent ending where the two tragic lovers finally get to celebrate their love together and their pent-up passion causes the bed to explode into flame and consume them, they reuniting in a glowing tunnel into the hereafter where their lives will be able to be lived as they should have been.
Unfortunately, in between the cooking set-pieces, Like Water for Chocolate gets dragged off into a long and drawn-out family drama. Too much time is spent on the subplots dealing with the lives of the other various family members, while the subplot about Regina Tornes ghostly revenge and the phantom pregnancy drags the film out far longer than it should. The film needed to be shorter, sharper, less drawn out it could have benefited from easily half-an-hour less running time. The film should have been built up around each meal and tends to lose it in these long stretches. Like Water for Chocolate is nevertheless a well-made film with fine acting from the whole cast, especially the lovely Lumi Cavazos and Regina Torne as the iron-willed matriarch of the family.
The theme of transcendental cooking first appeared in Babettes Feast (1987) and has since been used in several other films, including the inane teen romantic drama Simply Irresistible (1999), the frothy Magical Realist romance Woman on Top (2000), the dull mainstream hit Chocolat (2000) and the Indian The Mistress of Spices (2005).
Trailer here (in Spanish no subtitles):-