Like Water for Chocolate is one of my favorite foreign films of all time. It follows a young woman, Tita, who’s mother forces the love of her life to marry Tita’s sister so that Tita will have to take care of her mother for the rest of her life. The film is romantic and lovely, and full of passion and emotion.
The film uses very distinct lighting to highlight the emotions. There are candles for tears, and brightness on faces for love. Shadows are more apparent during sadness, and faces are more lit when there is happiness. It was very beautiful, and helped me to follow the emotions that Tita was feeling throughout the film. The shots on Tita were also very similar. There were a lot of medium to long shots on Tita, but when she was more emotional about something there would be a close up on her face. The other thing that the movie would focus on was the food. This movie had so much love and passion get poured into food, and watching the food being made close up was just like watching pieces of Tita’s heart.
Plot wise, I think the most appealing thing was the concept of passing emotions through food. The first time it happened was when Tita cried into the cake batter, and then when everyone ate cake, they cried and longed for their loved ones. They felt exactly what Tita was feeling when she started crying. I loved this concept so much – I thought it was quite exquisite. This happened throughout the movie – she felt love when she cooked the second meal, and her blood got on the flowers. The movie said “her whole being had dissolved into the rose sauce,” it was truly like she was connecting to Pedro through food.
The imagery in this movie is absolutely gorgeous. First, there was a use of fire that was consistent. There was flames and candles; the burning of the bathroom and the fire for cooking. Secondly, there was the ability for nudity to be absolutely gorgeous. One of my favorite scenes of all time was when Gertrude was running through the fields naked to a rider, and he picked her up on his horse and rode away with her. It was so freeing – she was feeling freed sexually and emotionally and physically from the binds of the family. It was glorious.
The use of color in the film was incredibly fascinating. There were so many whites and browns and earthy colors within what Tita would wear. At nighttime, this would often contrast the feeling of desperateness that Tita would feel. As the journey would go on, her clothes would get more colorful as her story got sadder. I found this use of contrast to be really superb and really made the sad things quite clear.
This story is absolutely a love story – but it was so much more then that. It’s a story about a woman who finds her strength. She suffers through so much, and there is still so much love and goodness in her. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.