Simple Irresistible (1999)
‘Simple Irresistible’ is a movie about Amanda, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. She gets some magical help from a crab. (Yes, a crab.) Amanda is a chef, whose tiny restaurant is slowly failing. She has inherited it from her mother, but doesn’t have her mother’s confidence. She uses her mother’s recipes and customs, and thus doesn’t manage to keep up with modern day expectations.
The crab plays matchmaker and set her up with a man, Tom (Sean Patrick Flanery), a manager of a department store, who is planning to open a new restaurant. They fall in love.
When Tom finds out there is magic working in the relationship, he believes Amanda to be a witch, and doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. One thing leads to another, and Amanda ends up cooking in Tom’s restaurant on the opening night.
How will these two overcome their personal doubts and fears, and will they end up together?
In ‘Chocolat’ the witchcraft is merely implied. The viewer understands that Vianne (Juliette Binoche), the new chocolatier of a small French village, is a witch, because her chocolate has magical properties.
She starts improving the villagers’ lives from the moment she moves in with her daughter. The village is very conservative, and most of the villagers are horrified by both the imprudence of the newcomers as well as the magic and decadence they introduce to the villagers’ lives.
‘Chocolat’ doesn’t only touch on the love life of Vianne, but speaks about the love of parents and children, friends and long time married couples. In addition, it speaks about how prejudice and xenophobia can result in life-threatening situations in small close-knit communities.
That being said, “Chocolat’ is a romantic, warm and overall a lovely movie.
Woman on Top (2000)
‘Woman on Top’ is another movie of the magic of food. In this, Isabella (Penelope Cruz) is a great cook, and she opens a restaurant in Salvador with Toninho (Murilo Benício), her husband. He cheats on her, and she runs away to USA, to live with a friend, Monica (Harold Perrineau). Isabella’s cooking inspires a TV producer create a cooking show, ‘Passion Food’, for her.
Back in Salvador, Toninho’s restaurant crashes without Isabella’s cooking. In his despair Toninho curses Yemanja, the Goddess of Love and the Seas. Yemanja responds by keeping the fish away from the sea around the village, so the local fishermen catch no fish.
Toninho goes after Isabella to win her back, but Isabella in turn has asked Yemanja to harden her heart against love, a request Yemanja answered. As Isabella is now unable to feel anything, all Toninho’s efforts to win her back are fruitless. On top of that, Isabella’s show turns out to be very successful.
How will Toninho get his Isabella back? Will Isabella ever feel anything again? Will Yemanja forgive?
The movie is resolved in a very sensual and romantic scene where Toninho and Isabella cook together.
Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
‘Like Water for Chocolate’ probably influenced ‘Simple Irresistible’, ‘Chocolat’ and ‘Woman on Top’.
‘Like Water for Chocolate’ tells a story about a Mexican family. The family has a tradition that the youngest daughter stays unmarried and takes care of her parents. In the story the youngest is Tita, who loves Pedro. They cannot marry, so Pedro marries her sister in stead, so he can stay close to Tita.
When Tita cooks, all her feelings are infused into the food, and the story takes a few surprising turns. Some of the twirls are very funny, some sad and some horrible.
‘Like Water For Chocolate’ is a movie of traditional Latin American magical realism, which to my mind makes it a fascinating fairytale loaded with unexpected twists, one of which is the ending.
If you choose to watch a movie of the magic of food for Halloween, be sure to prepare some really good snacks, or a good dinner that your guests and you can enjoy during or after the movie. because these movies will give you an appetite.