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aka - Como Agua Para Chocolate
Mexico 1992
Directed by
Alfonso Arau
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Like Water For Chocolate

The title of Like Water For Chocolate, a fine example of the so-called “magical realist” school of Latin-American film refers to the Mexican method of making hot chocolate by boiling and re-boiling water with cocoa until it becomes sweetly condensed.  The beauty of the film is that this metaphorical  conceit  connecting food and sexual ardour is not a once-off but a theme that runs through it, manifesting itself in various ways.  

Based on a best-selling novel by Laura Esquivel, the director’s wife, it tells the story of Tita (Lumi Cavazos, whom most auds will recognize as Inez from Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket), who is born on a kitchen table, the youngest daughter of a stern mother (Regina Torne) who decides that Tita must look after her until her (the mother’s) death and therefore can never marry. When a handsome young suitor (Marco Leonardi) asks for Tita;s hand im marriage Mama Elena instead offers him Tita’s older sister, Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi). Pedro agrees, figuring that at least he will be close to Tita. Of course, things do not turn out so simply.

Much happens thereafter in a wonderfully rich family saga told many years after Tita’s death by her niece, who now owns her aunt’s cookbook. My favorite scene is the wedding banquet when the guests, having eaten food infused with Tita’s tears, are overcome with sorrow for their own lost loves. Tita’s other sister Gertrudis (Claudette Maille) is so affected that inexplicably she attracts the presence of, and  is carried off by one of Pancho Villa's soldiers and becomes a guerilla fighter, manifesting the kind of rebelliousness against their mother that Tita will not. Food made with real passion can do that to you.

The film seamlessly integrates the real and the imaginary much in the manner of a folk tale and is realized with understated graciousness by Arau who is also an accomplished writer and actor. If you like food films Like Water For Chocolate should be a delicious treat.




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