The Mistress Of Spices
(out of 5)
A beautiful woman (Aishwarya Rai) with the power of foresight has survived being orphaned as a young girl to become a Mistress Of Spices, a sanctified order of women who administer to people’s needs by knowing what earthly delights their conundrums require. Posted at a beautiful store in San Francisco, she finds her vow of chastity to the Powers That Spice being threatened when a sexy American (Dylan McDermott) with bedroom eyes and that constantly rumpled look that you just know takes hours to perfect starts purring at her through the shop window. She indulges herself in a little romance at first, then realizes that it has inspired the spices to seek revenge on her for her betrayal. I’m really not kidding. Actually, Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chada’s screenplay, based on the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, has potential for an adorable conceit, but Berges’ hackneyed direction elicits sleepwalking performances from his leads and the drama is so hollow that the lighter moments feel painfully contrived. The soundtrack is lovely and the gastronomic delights are mouth-watering, but in the food-as-sexual-enticement genre (Like Water For Chocolate, Tortilla Soup, Chocolat), this one is deathly pale by comparison.
Kintop Pictures, Balle Pictures, Capitol Films, Ingenious Film Partners, Isle of Man Film, Spices Productions Ltd.
USA/United Kingdom, 2005
Directed by Paul Mayeda Berges
Screenplay by Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, based on the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Cinematography by Santosh Sivan
Produced by Gurinder Chadha, Deepak Nayar
Music by Craig Pruess
Production Design by Amanda McArthur
Costume Design by Stewart Meachem
Film Editing by Alex Rodriguez
Toronto International Film Festival 2005