The Mortal Instrements

Monday, February 27, 2012

Woman on Top [2000]

Woman on Top must be one of my top favorite movies! I've seen it so many times to count. I love everything in it. It makes me laugh and sigh with every passionate dish and kiss. Monica alone should have her own show, she is hilarious!

Once upon a time, in the land of bossanova, lived a girl named Isabella. When she was born, the gods blessed her with extraordinary beauty... but overlooked one itty-bitty flaw: motion sickness.

Her parents tried everything. Conventional medicine, organized religion... alternative religion. Nothing worked.

Until Yemanja... Goddess of the Sea, took pity on the child and compensated her with a gift. Too frail to play with her friends... Isabella spent her days in the kitchen with the family cook.

She blossomed into a shy but dazzling girl... who could melt the paletes and the heart of men. Isabella dreamed of traveling the world and becoming a famous chef. But when she laid eyes on the dashing Toninho, all her dreams took flight.

It was love... at first bite.

They fell so madly in love that they knew nothing could ever keep them apart.

With Isabella's exotic dishes, Toninho's new restaurant was the hottest spot in Brazil. She did all the work. He got all the credit.

And though she got job offers from all over the planet... Isabella's dreams of worldwide glory would melt away in Toninho's irresistible embrace.

Now, Isabella could control her motion sickness only by controlling her motions. If she always drove, if she always led, if she always stayed on top, everything was just fine.

Ah, but some men must always appear to be men... No matter what it may coast.

[Toninho cheats on Isabella and she prays for Yemanja to make her strong enough to leave him]

Her prayers were answered. And thus begins our story of love, motion sickness, and the art of cooking. 


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 must be on top during sex. Toninho feels emasculated by this and 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.

"I think that to cook well, you must bring all your feelings and experience to the act of creation... Let's start with my passion: chilli peppers. The come from the Americas, and were found here long before the arrival of Columbus. Hold them in your hand. Notice the colors. Now sniff."

"So now here's my favorite: Malagueta pepper. Don't be fooled by it's size. On the heat scale it is a very hot ten. But what I love most about it is its smell. Its aroma. And a flavor you can never forget."

"So when you work with chillies, remember to coat your fingers with oil. So your skin won't burn. The smooth flavor of a chilli is found on the outside part. The part that burns are the ribs and seeds. That's where the fire comes from."

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.

The ingredients to forget Toninho:
Find 4 fat Mephistophelean crabs.
Two ripe female mangoes.
12 drops of midnight rain.
The feather of a black rooster.
The eyes of two boiled catfish.
Sprinkle the ashes of an old burnt photograph on top.

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.

On Passion Food Live, Isabella ends her show by advising people: "The last and most important ingredient is to share it with someone you love."

He spots her on television and tracks her to the studio.

Toninho: "How could she? Squeezing her coconuts for all the world to see!
The Taxi Driver: "Your girlfriend's a stripper, man? Mine, too. You get used to it."

Toninho telling Isabella: "Your skin tasted of salt and your hair held a scent of cinnamon. And when you kissed me your lips burned with chilli pepper. It made my head spin."

Toninho: "Isabella, I swear on my mother's grave, you are the only woman I ever loved."

Isabella: "Your mother is still alive."

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.

Toninho: "You wouldn't understand. You're not a man."
Monica: "Toninho... that's probably the nicest thing you ever said to me.

Monica: "Why don't you try to be her friend?"Toninho: "Her friend?"Monica: "Trust me, I watch a lot of Oprah. Friendship is the basis of any relationship."Toninho: "A relationship. We didn't have a relationship. We were in love!"Monica: "Like Romeo and Juliet?"Toninho: "Yes!"Monica: "Or Tristan and Isolde?"Toninho: "Yes!"Monica: "Sonny and Cher."Toninho: "Yes!"Monica: "They all ended up dead, except for Cher."Toninho: "Dead, but in love."

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.

The Soundtrack [Music by Luis Bacalov]
  • Flor E O Espinho
  • Falsa Baiana by Paulinho Moska
  • O Ultimo Por Do Sol
  • Obsessão/Não Me Diga Adeus/Pois E/A Flor E O Espinho by Maria Creusa
  • Nos Bracos de Isabel 
  • Berekeke by Geraldo Azeredo
  • É Doce Morrer No Mar
  • Sonho Meu
  • Acordei 
  • Cinzas (The Breaker of Hearts)
  • Chão de Estrelas
  • Você
  • Falsa Baiana [BossaCucaNova Remix]
  • Brazil 
  • Aquarda de Brasil by Katla Morses
To get this amazing soundtrack check

The movie's posters and DVD:

To buy the DVD, check

To watch the trailer:


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