Woman on Top
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While wandering through the DVD section of the library, searching for the perfect movies for a quiet Friday night with a friend, I came across this movie. It was one of those little-known chick flicks that I’d wanted to check out for a while—so I added it to our pile of movies for Girls’ Night In.

Penélope Cruz stars as Isabella Oliveira, a talented chef whose cooking draws crowds to her husband’s restaurant. While she’s stuck in the kitchen, Toninho (Murilo Benício) enjoys the spotlight, singing with his band and shamelessly flirting with the clientele. When Isabella catches Toninho with another woman, she finally decides that she’s had enough. She leaves Brazil, determined to start a new life in San Francisco, where she’s taken in by her old friend, Monica (Harold Perrineau). Though her job search isn’t as easy as she thought it would be, a job in a cooking school leads to her very own cooking show. In no time, Isabella is a star, and she’s starting to think that she might just be able to fall in love again—maybe even with her doting producer, Cliff (Mark Feuerstein).

But just when things are starting to go well for Isabella, Toninho shows up, begging her to return to Brazil with him.

Maybe I expected too much from Woman on Top. I didn’t expect it to be a life-changing story—but I did expect it to be steamy and romantic, yet cute and funny, too. Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The story tries to be magical—filled with mystical rituals and angry goddesses—but it just ends up feeling a little too corny. Cruz isn’t bad, though. In fact, even though she’s too gorgeous to be real (something that normal women like me tend to really hate), she’s actually sweet and likeable in her role as Isabella. You really do want things to work out for her in the end. No matter how likeable she is, though, Cruz can’t keep Harold Perrineau from stealing the show as Monica, the wise drag queen.

Despite the cheesy magical scenes and a few other glitches, I generally liked Woman on Top—until the end. Unfortunately, I found the movie’s conclusion to be painfully disappointing. Some of the characters suddenly go completely out of character—and they just don’t behave the way characters should in a chick flick. The happy ending wasn’t so happy for my friend and me, who really wanted things to work out differently. And, in the end, we both agreed: Woman on Top is far from the top of our list of favorite chick flicks. Don’t bother with this one on your next Girls’ Night In.

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