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This film is a feast for the eyes. Based upon the best selling novela of the same name by Laura Esquivel, who also wrote the screenplay, the film successfully captures this tale of forbidden love. Well directed by Laura Esquivel's husband, Alfonso Arau (The Magnificent Ambersons, A Walk In the Clouds), the cast delivers wonderful performances in this mystical tale.
During the early twentieth century in Mexico, just south of the border, a girl catches the eye of boy. A number of years later, the boy, Pedro, now a young man, speaks to the girl, Tita, now a young woman, and declares his heartfelt, passionate love for her. Pedro (Marco Leonardi) wants Tita (Lumi Cavazos) to marry him.
He and his father meet with Tita's mother, Elena (Regina Torne), and ask if she would give her consent to a union between Pedro and Tita, Elena's youngest daughter. Elena forbids such a marriage to take place, as it is an unbroken family tradition that the youngest daughter remain single, so that she may take care of her mother until the mother dies. Such is the destiny of Tita. Elena, instead, cruelly offers to have her oldest daughter, Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi), marry Pedro.
Surprisingly, Pedro agrees to marry Rosauro, his twisted logic being that this is the only way he can be close to Tita. Thus, begins an untenable situation. Tita, forced by her selfish, harridan of a mother to prepare the wedding feast for Rosaura and Pedro, begins a lifelong sublimation of her passion and emotions with food. Its mystical properties become self evident in the expert hands of Tita, as she becomes a superlative cook. She has the ability to imbue the food that she prepares with the fervor and feelings, both good and bad, that she dare not express. Her love, her pain, her passion is evident in every delightful and delicious dish that she creates, and her feelings manifest themselves in those who ingest her meals.
This is a glorious film about love, filled with mystical, magical, and supernatural portents. Sensual and evocative, it details the road that Tita and Pedro must travel before their journey is complete. Wonderfully acted and beautifully told, theirs is a story that will long linger in the mind of the viewer. Awash in amber tones, the brilliant cinematography contributes to the mystical properties of this film. Sumptuous and surreal, it is a feast for the eyes and not to be missed. Bravo!
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on 21 March 2002
This film is ultimately based on a very old Mexican tradition, whereby the youngest daughter of the family is fated to be a spinster in order to look after her mother. This is a very forlorn film but nevertheless, excellent. Food also plays a major part in this film. It is a beautifully made film and I recommend those who can read Spanish to read this novel by Laura Esquivel.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 March 2011
Warm, funny, bittersweet, moving fable about three sisters, their horrific mother; and their
lives and loves in early 20th century Mexico.

The film feels epic in scope, despite only being 1:45 long. That does mean a
few things get rushed, and there are moments that edge into too
cute. Perhaps that's because the film has been inexplicably shortened
from it's original theatrical length.

But for the most part, this mix of romance, cooking, melodrama, gentle satire
and magical realism still works wonderfully well, and the constant use of food as a
metaphor for sex, and for life feels original and creative.

Another complaint on the the DVD is that it is in full frame, 4:3 format, so
not only do we not get all the story, we also don't get all the image. A pity.

(Note: the new 2011 Miramax release at least restores the film to 1:85, but
does not replace the edited material, so it's only a partial solution.)
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on 2 March 2015
Based on the 1989 novel by Laura Esquivel, and hugely popular and critically lauded on its release in 1992, this Mexican film is the quintessential “magic realism” picture. Magic realism is where the existence of magic is accepted in an otherwise rational, everyday universe. Here it means that the food poor Tita (Lumi Cavazos) makes is infused with all the sadness and joy she happens to be experiencing at the time.

So, when her monstrous mother Elena (Regina Torné) tells Tita she’ll never be married, and that her true love Pedro (Marco Leonardi) will wed her sister instead, Tita’s tears poison the wedding banquet and cause the guests to collapse into sobbing themselves, and then violently vomit.

Opening in 1895, the film spans about 40 years, although it’s very fast-moving. There’s a birth and a funeral in the first five minutes. It’s a heady, dizzying narrative, with every melodramatic scene seemingly another revelation: another pregnancy or untimely death, as Tita and Pedro dance a merry (and not-so-merry) dance around the entrenched family values and traditions of the time.

Throughout, food is the real star, Alfonso Arau’s camera lovingly sticking its nose into myriad dishes while the humans bicker and weep. There’s something paradoxically powerful about a feminist story told mostly in kitchens. It’s a film about sensations; specifically, how social conventions deny human sensations. The “food of the gods” scene, which culminates in Tita’s sister trying to dowse her lust and setting the water-shed on fire, is wildly erotic. Jane Campion’s The Piano would be released the following year, and that too would make deeply sensual use of buttoned-down desires finally unleashed.

Once Elena has left the story, the narrative unfortunately loses focus, the mother-daughter relationship having been the affecting heart of the story. Herself broken by love, Elena wants only for Tita to experience the loss and agony that she once did. The remaining conflicts aren’t nearly so interesting, so the empty space is felt. Therefore the last act isn’t quite the explosion of showdowns one hopes for. And even by the standards of magic realism the ending is contrived, though enjoyably silly nonetheless.

This is a true date movie: swift, bright, funny, erotic, dramatic, and strange enough to inspire debate. It’s a banquet of a movie. Just be prepared – it cares far more for magic than realism. But that’s okay. To paraphrase Kubrick: Real is good, interesting is better.
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on 7 February 2009
I first saw this at my local cinema some years back and it went down so well it was brought back again. I bought it on Video and have now purchased the DVD. I have been a lover of the cinema for seventy years plus and regard this film as one of the best I have ever seen. The scene where Tita drives away wrapped in her knitted garment and yards of it flowing behind her speaks volumes about her feelings and the unobtainable man she loves, for me one of the great moments in cinematic history.
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VINE VOICEon 18 October 2006
I have to say that "Like Water for Chocolate" is one of my most favourite books of all time. But after watching the film version, I have to say that if I had watched the film first, then I probably wouldn't have read the book. Its really sad because the film really doesn't do the story justice. There's so much more to the story than is shown in the film, and a lot of it is a bit difficult to understand, especially if you haven't read the book beforehand. I'd definitely recommend reading the book instead, or at least reading it before watching the film.
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on 1 April 2008
this was a fantastic film. Totally moving and emotional and i loved the story. The constant referral to gorgeous food did make my mouth water constantly and i was also bowled over by the gorgeous love story that played out before my eyes. A lovely treat to watch and it made my love of foreign films even more overpowering!
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on 24 April 2010
Adapted from Laura Esquivel's stunning novel of the same name the film stays very true to the book and works very well.

Plot: Tita is destined, as the youngest daughter, according to a family tradition, to never marry and look after her mother until she dies. She falls in love with Pedro, who after asking for her hand marries Tita's sister so that he can always be close to Tita.

This story is a brilliant example of Latin-American Magic Realism, and a love story, but not a conventional one. The novel beautifully written, the screenplay adapted by the author herself, it is a very nice piece of Mexican Cinema in a sort of Hollywood tradition. Highly recommended.
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on 26 November 2015
This is an interesting storyline - a mother insists her youngest daughter cannot marry but must spend her life looking after her. So the young man that falls in love with the youngest daughter is forced to marry the eldest, less attractive one.Through many years and dramas, their love survives, but the ending is a cop-out and melodramatic and for me spoiled the whole of the previous story.
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on 6 May 2016
I saw this film several years ago and it made a great impression on me then as a very beautiful and moving film that was well crafted which makes it memorable. The strong emotions that are portrayed in this film are of people living in Mexico at that time, are very tangible since they are treated sympathetically. The acting by all the cast is superb and the production is excellent. I bought this when I saw it had been remastered on Blu-Ray and I am very pleased with the quality on wide screen format. This is a film that I will watch again since it is one that deserves repeated viewings.
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