Spain in the mid-seventeenth century. A series of bloody wars has ravaged the nation. Don Juan the nobleman and his valet, Sganarelle, roam the countryside on horseback, on the run and lost... See full summary »
From the roaring 1920s to the ruinous Spanish Civil War and Adolf Hitler's rise into power, the lives of an Irish schoolteacher, a provocative heiress and her Spanish muse are intricately interlaced, sharing the same destiny and passion.
Plagued by chronic motion sickness, Isabella--a sultry Brazilian belle, and a gifted chef--needs to be in control in every aspect of her life: in her car; in the kitchen; on the dance floor, and of course, during sex. Needless to say, this confusing situation drives Isabella's husband, Toninho, crazy--and after one infidelity too many--the feisty young woman decides to do what she knows best: take over the reins of her life, and move to San Francisco. There, a brilliant career as the presenter of her TV cooking show awaits Isabella--and for the first time in a long while--she feels loved. Will guilty Toninho realise what he's lost?Written by
WOMAN ON TOP is one of those films that was made, publicized and viewed as pastiche and because of its honesty as a simple romantic comedy, it rates higher than many of the over the top and overproduced competitors. The film is colorful, filled with wonderful Bossa Nova music, and has enough eye candy to almost make you forget the main dishes! Isabella Oliveira (Penélope Cruz) lives in Bahia, Brazil totally in love with Toninho Oliveira (Murilo Benício) where the two have a restaurant featuring Isabella's passionate cooking and Toninho's macho front man role. Isabella has a problem: motion sickness - she cannot fly, ride in a car, or assume the bottom position during sex or she becomes violently ill (it seems that the sea goddess compensated her problem by making her an inimitable chef). All is well until Toninho has a brief affair that drives the crushed Isabella to move to San Francisco alone despite her love for Toninho. There she moves in with her old friend Monica from Bahia (Harold Perrineau as a superbly enacted crossed dressed drag queen) and begins her unsuccessful search for a job. In order to overcome her longing for Toninho and regain her culinary skills she makes a pact with the sea goddess, forsaking ever loving Toninho again. Eventually Isabella lands a TV show on Passionate Cooking when desperate producer Cliff (Mark Feuerstein) gets a whiff of her talent. She is an immediate success. Meanwhile Toninho, unable to endure life in Bahia without Isabella, flies to San Francisco and begins a series of Bossa Nova serenades to win her back. Cliff places Toninho on Isabella's show as background music and the ratings soar. But it is the ultimately the conflict resolution between Isabella and Toninho that brings the story to its expected end.
The story may be light and the script may be pedestrian, but the direction and camera work suffuse this film with Latin American magical realism and that keeps it lighthearted and fun. Cruz is terrific, Perrineau is the true star of the show displaying a sophisticated and sensitive acting skill that is very special, and Murilo Benício is not only a hunk and eye candy but also a fine singer and a warm actor who deserves a lot of attention. Story five, stars six. Have fun with this one! Grady Harp, March 06
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