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LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE

Mexico, 1992 (MIFF 1993)

Director: Alfonso Arau

Laura Esquivel wrote her first novel in 1989, and 'Como Agua Para Chocolate' has become one of the top selling Mexican novels ever. The film version, produced and directed by Alfonso Arau (known for his roles, in the films of Sam Peckinpah), has attained even greater success.

The title refers to the traditional Aztec means of making chocolate, where the water must be at a furious boil to ensure the richest texture when the beans are thrown in. It is also a phrase used to describe a person on the verge of boiling over. And this film absolutely sizzles.

Set on the Texas-Mexico border in 1910 during the Mexican revolution, Like Water For Chocolate tells the surrealistically erotic and humourous story of Tita, the youngest of three daughters of a wilful widow on a remote ranch. Pedro (played by Marco Leonardi the teenaged hero in Cinema Paradiso) wishes to marry her, but tradition dictates that the youngest daughter can never marry — she must cook and care for her mother. To remain near his true love Pedro marries Tita's oldest sister, and Tita establishes a highly unusual sensual relationship with Pedro through the food she prepares for him.

Arau and Esquivel have established a very fertile collaborative relationship in this visually sophisticated epic of passionate cookery, this uniquely Mexican answer to Babette's Feast. A steamy Marquezian recipe, Like Water For Chocolate is destined to become a new classic in the cinema of magic realism and erotic comestibles, taking notions of hunger to unimaginable heights.

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