Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 9th, 2015
BluRay released: March 2nd, 2015
Approximate running time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM 5.1 Spanish
BluRay Release: Arrow Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)
Like Water for Chocolate was directed by Alfonso Arau whose other notable films include, Mojado Power and A Walk in the Clouds. Key collaborators on Like Water for Chocolate include cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Y Tu Mamá También, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) and composer Leo Brouwer (Memories of Underdevelopment, The Last Supper). The screenplay for Like Water for Chocolate was written by Laura Esquivel, who also wrote the novel of the same name from which the screenplay was adapted. This film’s title Like Water for Chocolate, is a double entendre meaning either one if angry or one is filled with passion.
The narrative for this film chronicles Tita, this film’s protagonist’s life. And her life is told via a great granddaughter who finds her diary. Her journey begins when she is an adolescent and it ends with her in the twilight years of her life.
Tita is the youngest daughter and because of family tradition, when her dies she is given the task of taking care of her mother until she passes away. And now due to her situation she is unable to marry Pedro the man she loves. Not wanting to give up on their love and wanting to remain close to the woman he loves, Pedro marries Tita’s sister Rosaura. At first this arrangement works, but as time goes on it becomes clear that they still have strong feelings for each other and Tita’s mother arranges have Pedro and Rosaura to move in with a relative who lives in Texas. From there the relationship with Tita and her mother becomes highly contentious and Tita suffers a breakdown. After she recovers Tita enters into a romantic relationship with Doctor John Brown, the man who helped take care of her after her emotional breakdown. At this point in her life where she was once submissive and gave into everything her mother asked of her. She has become confident in making her own choices and not wanting to lose another man, she ignores family tradition by moving in with John. This new relationship and time away from her mother helps her distance herself from her love for Pedro. And at first this new arrangement works for Tita, until the day finally arrives when her mother passes away. Shortly thereafter due to circumstances her love for Pedro is rekindled, who is still married to her sister and Tita is still married to John.
Giving life to the richly detailed characters which populate this extraordinary story about forbidden love are strong performance form the entire cast. With the performance that anchors this film is Lumi Cavazos (Bottle Rocket) in the role of this film’s protagonist Tita. She creates a well-defined character that one easily sympathizes with. Also there is tremendous amount of growth in the evolution of her character. Other standout performances include Marco Leonardi (Cinema Paradiso) in the role of Pedro, Yareli Arizmendi (A Day Without a Mexican) in the role of Rosaura and Regina Torné (Madame Death).
Adapting a novel is never an easy task and this film does a remarkable job of not only capturing the essence of the novel, but also ensuring that all the key moments that drive the narrative remained intact. A few standout moments include, a scene where Tita makes a dinner that uses the rose petals from the roses given to her from Pedro. Also during this scene one of Tita’s sister Gertrudis is taking a shower and aroma of the meal that she cooked ignites the shower and engulfs it in flames. From there she flees the burning shower naked and she is subsequently abducted by revolutionary militant. The emotions on display during this scene are overwhelming. Other standout moments include the moments when Tita’s mother ghost haunts her as she continues to peruse Pedro. Also there is a gothic vibe going on during these moments. Ultimately from a production standpoint there are not any areas where this film does not excel.
Like Water for Chocolate comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer does a great retaining the intended look of the film. Color reproduction is consistently strong, flesh tones look accurate, black levels look very good and details generally look crisp. And though there are no issues with DNR or compression, when it comes to grain some of the darker moments look very thick.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM 5.1 mix in Spanish and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. Dialog always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. With that being said this is an intimate film that is dialog driven and this audio mix does a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack.
Extras are limited to an audio commentary with director Alfonso Arau and actors Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos. This audio commentary is in Spanish with English subtitles. Topics discussed include, how special this film is them and their careers, the casting process, the source novel from which the film was adapted, Marco and Lumi discuss their working relationship with Alfonso Arau, the reaction to the film at the Cannes Film festival, Arau discusses why he choose to go with Miramax for distribution, they also discuss key moments in the film, set design and the authentic look of the film, shooting nude scenes and the climatic final love scene. Also included as part of this combo release is a DVD counterpart that has the same contents that the Blu-Ray does. Overall Arrow Films gives Like Water for Chocolate a first rate release.