Matilde is a nun convinced that faith moves mountains. Secretly
she begins a mystic fasting to end what she considers to be
the second great flood. Elena is a thin and fashion-conscious
woman ashamed of her daughter's chubbiness. She's willing
to do the impossible to make her daughter Linda thin so Linda
will look like a little princess on the day she receives her
first communion. At the same time Elen's husband Gustavo,
a professor of architecture - cannot cope any more with his
wife's bones sticking into him during more intimate moments.
For relief, he turns his attention to a buxom female student
with a hearty appetite. One family, diverse eating disorders. Their faith, love and vanity are all put to the test at the dining room table.
You would expect a film about food to be bright, colourful, cheery, or romantic even. The hilarious God of Cookery (1996), the heartfelt Babette’s Feast (1987), the touching Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) or the passionate Chocolat (2000)? This Mexican film about food is anything but bright, colourful, cheery or romantic. The Simon Bross directed picture boasts of colours so dreary and dull, you’d think you are watching a tragic drama that has no joy to spread. Even when the food appears on screen, you wouldn’t feel any sense of appetite – and that is exactly why this film stands out as a decent attempt to arouse your senses while watching it.
Together with Ernesto Anaya, Bross pens this heartrending tale about a family that has very different eating disorders. While this is already a very interesting premise by itself, the plot makes things even more attention grabbing by having each of the member’s faith, love and vanity put to the test with the food they eat. There is a nun who believes that faith can turn wine into water, so she fasts to prevent what she considers to be the second biggest flood in the country’s history. Then there is a thin woman who is ashamed of her daughter’s weight problem. She goes to great extents to make her daughter thin so that she will look good during her first communion. On the other hand, her husband does not find satisfaction in her thinness and seeks solace in a, well, fleshier female student.
Admit it, the summer blockbuster viewer in you hasn’t seen a unique story plot like that in ages. So despite the monotonous colours featured in the movie, and its lack of romance, action and comedy, it does come off as a rather refreshing take on human nature. There is a constant mood of gloom, desperation and helplessness throughout the movie’s 98 minute runtime, and it complements the tale well because it reflects on many of the characters’ inner feelings. It is all the more evident that the filmmakers have a unique vision of the lackluster world envisioned by the storytellers, and when contrasted with food, the dark themes are even more accentuated.
The cast members (Jimena Ayala, Elena De Haro, Marco Trevino and Elisa Vicendo, anyone?) may be unknown faces in this part of the world, but their intense performances allow us to be engaged with their on screen personalities. This may be Bross’ debut feature film, but the maturity and vision in the product is definitely commendable, earning it several wins and nominations at different international film festivals. We are hoping that this is a sign of better things to come from this filmmaker.
This Code 3 DVD contains no extra features.
The disc’s visual transfer is fine, and the movie is presented in its original Spanish soundtrack.
Review by John Li
Posted on 2 July 2009