Woman on Top

Penelope Cruz, Mark Feuerstein, Murilo Benicio, Harold Perrineau Jr.

Directed by Fina Torres
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 22, 2000

Caramba — if you haven't already drooled over Penelope Cruz in Spanish films such as All About My Mother or Jam-n Jam-n, which really gives you a gander, this innocuous fluff at least functions as a heads-up. Cruz will soon be a Hollywood fixture — with Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses, with Johnny Depp in Blow, with Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, with Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky. What's she got? Youth, talent, beauty, sexiness, all on display here in a vacuum.

Directed by Fina Torres from a script by Vera Blasi, the film casts Cruz as Isabella, a Brazilian chef who runs a restaurant in Bahia with her hunk of a troubadour husband, Toninho (Murilo Benício). All is well, even though the motion-sick Isabella demands to be in control - at work, in the car, on the dance floor and in bed. Then Isabella finds Toninho balls-deep in another babe, one who doesn't need to be on top.

Feeling betrayed, Isabella jets off to San Francisco, where she lives with her transvestite friend Monica (Harold Perrineau Jr.), flirts with Cliff (Mark Feuerstein), an American TV producer, and ends up being the star of her own TV cooking show, Passion Food Live, for which Toninho provides musical accompaniment. The Brazilian songs, performed by Paulinho Moska, give the film a romantic lilt it doesn't earn through writing, directing or acting. Torres' film, lacking the hot-peppered sensuality of Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate, serves up a bland helping of chile con corny. Cruz is a dish, but her movie is as soggy and indigestible as Styrofoam.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »