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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired

    Woman on Top (Rental)

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . M15+ . PAL


    And so begins tonight’s tale, a story of love, the art of cookery – and motion sickness...

    Meet Isabella (Cruz), a stunningly beautiful Brazilian girl born with a rather inhibiting affliction – severe motion sickness. Not always so much debilitating as just plain inconvenient, to avoid turning green she must be the one to drive, take the lead when dancing, and even be on top in boudoir pursuits.

    From a young age her parents tried most everything to find a cure, until finally approaching the goddess of the sea for help. Whilst not providing a fix as such, she did bestow upon the child the gift of culinary witchery. As she grew up she discovered that this gift could melt the palates, and subsequently the hearts, of men all over. She dreamt of an adventurous life travelling the world as a sort of roving chef at large – until she met Toninho (Benecio), and fell for the love and marriage trap.

    Rather than following her dreams she now appears destined to remain in her beau’s restaurant – slaving away in the kitchen whilst he takes all the credit for her magical munchie masterpieces. That is until Toninho’s pathetically fragile male ego can take no more of not having control (“I’m a man, I have to be on top sometimes”) and gets caught by Isabella hiding the sausage with some harlot. Being a clever girl Isabella’s out of there, and hops a plane bound for San Francisco. Sadly you can’t charm those pilots into letting you fly the plane, so after a rather queasy flight she bribes a Rasta taxi driver into letting her take control, and is off to find the home of her childhood friend, Monica (Perrineau Jr), before starting her hunt for chef work. Now Monica isn’t your everyday, run of the mill gal, she’s actually a transvestite (and quite a stunning one at that).

    And so from one TV guy to another, this one being the rather white-bread Cliff (Feuerstein), a producer for a television station who is in search of a show for their 7:30 time slot that “won’t get clobbered by Xena”. After getting a sniff of Monica’s coffee, and in a scene reminiscent of an Impulse commercial he joins a veritable throng of males pursuing Isabella like rats followed the Pied Piper, until they all arrive at her cookery class. As Isabella wryly states, there seem to be one or two new class members...

    "Lady, what planet are you from?" "Brazil."

    This meeting with Cliff naturally leads to Isabella landing her own television show, Passion Food, complete with the lovely Monica as her assistant. It goes from success to success until… well, had anybody wondered what happened to that ol’ slimeball Toninho? Whilst Isabella had a spell cast to kill off her love for him, he is still frantically searching for she who he regards as his property. He manages to piss off the goddess of the sea to the point where the fish completely disappear, he twigs where she would have headed to, lobs in San Francisco, hails the same Rasta cabbie, and sets out to find Monica’s place. He’s not particularly successful, so being a bloke naturally he heads for a nearby bar – where who should he see on the television screen but Isabella. Being the caveman that he is, he invades her show whilst it's on air along with his posse of guitar-wielding serenaders. Isabella is incensed, but the producers like it and decide to make him a regular fixture.

    Much ensues, but I shan’t give any more away. Suffice to say that success can lead to too many cooks spoiling the broth, a lack of fish can be very bad for a seafood restaurant, we haven’t heard the last of the goddess of the sea, and we discover how pigs are turned into snags...


    Woman On Top is quite the tasty visual treat, and the transfer doesn’t let it down once. Presented in its original cinematic ratio of 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced, the glorious production design and often-vivid colours used all come across scrumptiously. To be honest I noticed nothing sour tasting at all that's worth commenting on, even the many opportunities for aliasing went by without any hiccups. Still, with such a bare bones disc, and a rather brief running time I guess they had plenty of disc space to play around with...


    Matching the visual quality, the audio is also pretty much baked to perfection. The only choice is a Dolby 5.1 mix (and there's nothing wrong with that), which brings the film to sonic life most suitably. There are hardly lashings of activity for the surround speakers, but what does pop up is handled in fine style, with the usual staples such as storm and ocean scenes enveloping you delightfully.

    The only quibbles some may have are with understanding certain characters on occasions, as there are many accents on hand here that are thicker than the yummiest pumpkin soup, including at times Isabella's. There was also one rather obvious scene where what Isabella was mouthing was completely different to what we got to hear. Oops...

    The soundtrack serves up both kinds of music, salsa AND salsa. If you're not a fan of Latin music though don’t let it put you off seeing this film, as I plump firmly into that category yet still found myself doing little couch-bound hip wiggles (not a pretty sight) and getting into it much more than I would ever have expected. The fact that it all suits the movie's vibe rather aptly helps up the appreciation factor no end.


    Well, it's another one of those icky rental-only affairs, complete with a horrid, generic Fox menu. When the cover contains a special features list of 'interactive menus' and 'scene access' you know that the cupboard is well and truly bare, there's not a single sausage to play with.


    Woman on Top is a delightful, captivating and visually delectable little film. It is spicy and passionate without ever becoming sleazy, and has a magical, almost fairytale-like quality that permeates throughout, from the opening credits that are reminiscent of those from the TV series Bewitched, to the introductory narration, gorgeous little added touches like aromas that you can see and a simply captivating underwater sequence to, well, most every scene. If you’re after something that’s entirely real world then forget it, this is a wonderful example of an exercise in escapism, and as such I guess won’t be everybody’s cup of filtered coffee...

    As a disc there isn’t much to say, whilst it looks and sounds fantastic it isn’t like you can actually go out and buy it. However, if you’re scouring the video store shelves after a nice romantic and subtly comic watch that sits outside the sort of gooshy Meg Ryan-ness that mainstream Hollywood usually dishes up, then I wholeheartedly recommend this for a cuddly night’s hire.

    Goce de su comida!

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      And I quote...
    "A delectable little modern-day fairytale..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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