In Mexico, they make hot chocolate with boiling water, and to say someone is "like water for hot chocolate" means, well, that they're hot to trot. Adapted from a phenomenally successful novel and already Mexico's biggest international hit, this captivating comic fairy tale of romance, repression, revolution and recipes, revolves around three sisters from a wealthy ranching family on the Mexican-Texas border — sour Rosaura, spunky Gertrudis and the culinarily gifted beauty Tita (Cavazos), the youngest — whose bizarre fates are tangled together.
Denied marriage to her sweetheart Pedro (Leonardi), who accepts eldest sister Rosaura instead, Tita is decreed by her tyrannical mother to be her lifelong companion and cook. Tita puts her soul into her cooking. When she weeps tears of frustration and grief into the batter for her sister's wedding cake, the guests who eat it get upset. When she prepares a special meal with love and desire, the diners are uncontrollably stirred.
Adapted by Laura Esquivel from her novel, the film follows the family's fortunes, longings and domestic storms, encompassing birth, death, madness and innumerable mouth-watering dishes, as they're played out against the turbulence of a country in revolution in the early part of this century. Flitting gracefully from high comedy to tragedy to whimsy with a sureness born of its unifying vision — a loving celebration of women and the work they do — this is original, arresting and full of visual delight, accelerating gently to an almost unbearable poignancy. Deliciously offbeat and bittersweet, it is, entirely appropriately, a treat.