Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2001. Samuel Goldwyn Films, Starz! Encore Entertainment. Screenplay by Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca, Vera Blasi, based on an earlier screenplay by Hui-Lang Wang, Ang Lee, James Schamus. Cinematography by Xavier Perez Grobet. Produced by John Bard Manulis. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by Alicia Maccarone. Costume Design by Ileane Meltzer. Film Editing by Andy Blumenthal.
There’s nothing more annoying than when Americans remake foreign films, but this Latino adaptation of Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman is a notable exception. Of course, this is probably because the culture it depicts is treated just as abominably in America as Asians are, so it doesn’t really feel like that much of a sellout. Hector Elizondo is tailor-made for his role as a skilled chef and concerned father whose three daughters (Elizabeth Peña, Jacqueline Obradors, Tamara Mello) have enough romantic complications to send him to his grave early. In between their troubling personal lives, the girls gather at their father’s house once a week to share a meal and work out their many differences. The script is perfectly balanced, even richer than Lee’s, and the mouth-watering dishes and spicy musical score celebrate Latin culture like no other American film before it. Then, as if that weren’t enough, there’s a fantastic cameo by the irresistible Raquel Welch. If this film were a meal it would be a full three-courses of satisfying gourmet richness with Welch as the dessert. Don’t ever pass up the chance to see it.