Woman on Top
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|Woman on Top|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fina Torres|
|Produced by||Alan Poul|
|Written by||Vera Blasi|
Harold Perrineau Jr.
|Music by||Luis Bacalov|
|Edited by||Leslie Jones|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
Woman on Top is a 2000 fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Fina Torres. It is set in Salvador, Brazil and San Francisco, United States. The film stars Penélope Cruz, Murilo Benício, Harold Perrineau Jr. and Mark Feuerstein. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
All her life, Isabella has suffered from motion sickness. Because of her illness she couldn't play much with other children. She stayed at home and learned how to cook, becoming a renowned chef as an adult. She fell in love with Toninho and they opened a restaurant together, with Isabella stuck in the kitchen and Toninho out front taking the credit.
The only way for Isabella to control her motion sickness is to control her motion. She must drive, take stairs instead of elevators, lead while dancing, and on top during coitus. Feeling emasculated by this, Toninho has an affair with a neighbor. Isabella flees Brazil for San Francisco and her friend Monica, an African-American transsexual who spent her early years in Isabella's fishing community in Salvador. Despite old job offers from a number of restaurants, Isabella is unable to find a job until she takes over a cooking class at a local culinary school. Cliff, a neighbor and local television producer, smells her cooking, follows her to class and signs her to host a live cooking show, Passion Food. She makes Monica her assistant on the show. Isabella performs a sacrifice to Yemanja, a Brazilian sea goddess, to harden her heart and make her never love Toninho again.
Back in Brazil, Toninho's restaurant is foundering without Isabella. Toninho curses Yemanja, and the fishermen stop catching any fish. He figures out that Isabella has gone to Monica and follows her to San Francisco. He spots her on television and tracks her to the studio. With a group of local street musicians, Toninho sneaks into the studio and onto the set, serenading Isabella on the live broadcast. Cliff hires Toninho and the musicians for the show over Isabella's objections. Isabella pursues a relationship with Cliff but Toninho continues trying to win her back.
Network executives offer to syndicate Isabella's show nationally, but only after demanding a number of changes, including firing Monica. With the restaurant closed, Toninho apologizes to Yemanja, but tells her to "stay out of [his] business" with Isabella. He quits the show and makes another attempt to win back Isabella. Isabella goes after him but has to take an elevator, and her motion sickness slows her enough to allow Toninho to depart. Isabella also quits the show rather than accept the changes demanded by the network.
Isabella, with her love still gone but now wanting it returned, tries to cook another sacrifice to Yemanja but finds her cooking talent is gone. Undaunted, Monica substitutes some boxed macaroni and cheese. Isabella makes the second offering but nearly drowns. She has a vision of Yemanja, who rejects her new offering.
Isabella goes to collect her things from the television studio. Toninho, sent by Monica, shows up and suggests they cook something together. As they cook, the fish return to the village waters and Yemanja returns Isabella's original offering along with her love for Toninho.
The film closes with Toninho and Isabella operating a new restaurant as equal partners and with Cliff and Monica as a couple.
- Penélope Cruz as Isabella Oliveira
- Murilo Benício as Toninho Oliveira
- Harold Perrineau as Monica Jones (as Harold Perrineau Jr.)
- Mark Feuerstein as Cliff Lloyd
- John de Lancie as Alex Reeves (as John De Lancie)
- Wagner Moura as Rafi
- Anne Ramsay as TV Director
- Ana Gasteyer as Claudia Hunter
- Analu De Castro as Little Isabella as Age 2
- Thais De Sá Curvelo as Little Isabella as Age 5
- Eliane Guttman as Isabella's Mother (as Eliana Guttman)
- Eduardo Mattedi as Isabella's Father
- Ana Paula Oliveira as Cook
- Marilice Santos as Sexy Neighbor
The film opened at #10 at the North American box office making $2,008,191 in its opening weekend. Ultimately the film grossed $5,020,111 in North America playing at a high of 1,086 theaters. The film also grossed a total of $10,194,274 worldwide becoming a modest box office success.
- Staff. "Woman on Top (2000) 92 min - Comedy : Fantasy : Romance - 22 September 2000 (Greece)". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Festival de Cannes: Woman on Top". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-16.