Set during the Mexican revolution, this is a women's movie in that it shows the secret face of political events. Of three sisters, Gertrudis (Maille) becomes a general in the revolutionary army; Rosaura (Arizmendi) is married and has children; and the youngest, sweet-faced Tita (Cavazos), who was cheated of the chance to wed, experiences life through the disciplines of the kitchen. It might sound a bit like Babette's Feast, except that the rows, rapes, gunfire, ghosts and sex are a million miles from 19th century Denmark. Tita is doomed by tradition to spend her life looking after her ramrod mother (Torne), while her true love (Leonardi) perversely weds Rosaura. Director Arau doesn't linger over laborious cooking and sensual ingredients, perhaps because he has much to cover: 40 years, three generations, love wasted and renewed. Recipes are milestones as the women eat, fantasise and crave. It's overlong, but that reflects the nature of Mexican cooking: like water for chocolate, which must be brought to the boil three times, the characters continually bubble and boil over.
Cast and crew
Mario Ivan Martinez