Woman on Top
Penelope Cruz and little else in this so-so comedy
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has lots of transvestitism, which is never explained. A few fiery expletives spoken jokingly, not in anger. A self-involved husband has at least one affair, then pursues his wife aggressively after she leaves him. Moderate but consistent salty dialogue and situations, including penile length references and an undulating, semi-clad cross-dresser; a glimpse of breasts. Some mild bar fighting in defense of a woman's honor.
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What's the Story?
WOMAN ON TOP tells the story of Brazilian chef Isabella (Penelope Cruz), who enchants as much with her beauty as with her saucepans' wind-blown aromas. Men follow her blindly, in droves. Wilting flowers leap to attention as she passes. Yet her relationship with her husband, Toninho (Murilo Bení£©o), is less than satisfying, so when she catches him with another woman, she decides it's time to start her life anew. She moves to San Francisco, where her transvestite friend Monica lives. Isabella takes a job teaching a cooking class and catches the eye of TV producer Cliff, who decides she's perfect to host her own cooking show. But Toninho realizes he needs Isabella and pursues her to San Francisco.
Is It Any Good?
Woman on Top fosters a sense that dreams can come true, that gods can be angered, that we have entered a magical place where anything can happen. The magic that Venezuelan director Fina Torres and first-time screenwriter Vera Blasi spin here is none too subtle. The scenes in which Isabella mesmerizes her Culinary Academy students are charming, and her friendship with a black San Francisco transvestite sidesteps cliché in large part because neither the relationship nor his transvestitism bog down with explanation.
What doesn't work so well is the husband Toninho. The movie wants us to yearn for Isabella to take him back, but why should she? Not only is he an adulterer, he's insensitive. What lingers of the film isn't the romance so much as the sumptuous food, the Latin rhythms, and the charisma of Penelope Cruz.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about black magic.
- In theaters: February 13, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: February 13, 2001
- Cast: Ana Gasteyer, Harold Perrineau, Penelope Cruz
- Director: Fina Torres
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some strong sexuality and language
- Last updated: December 3, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Like Water for Chocolate
Passionate tale of lost and regained love.
Bland-but-sweet dramedy more for adult palates.
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