In this essay I will explore in detail the curious Mexican film, Like Water for Chocolate
(Como Agua Para Chocolate) which I argue is a site for feminine resistance and empowerment.
The film incorporates the mundaneness of periodical romance and the fantastic characteristic of
magic realism, creating a new space for the exploration of otherwise naturalized binaries. Like
Water for Chocolate relies on a tenuous nexus of narrative structures, sensuality, and metaphor to
create a shifting, seemingly insubstantial landscape of subtle yet substantial subversive strength.
Upon first viewing, the film is likely to create in the viewer a certain perturbing feeling of being
ungrounded. Yet, it is doubtful that the viewer in this initial experience will notice the complex of
relationships I describe herein. The analysis I describe is one arrived at after repeated viewings,
analysis, and research.
Like Water for Chocolate is based on the book Como Agua Para Chocolate by
screenwriter Laura Esquivel.
The original 1989 novel was a bestseller in Mexico for two years
before being released in the U.S. in 1992. The English version was translated by Carol
Christensen and Thomas Christensen. That same year the film version was released, with
screenplay by Esquivel, and direction by her husband, Alfonso Arau. The film was distributed
by Miramax, and is currently available from Touchstone Home Video. Like Water for Chocolate
opened to very favorable reviews in the United States.
A brief synopsis of Like Water for Chocolate suggests that it is the story of Tita, third
daughter of Mama Elena, and therefore consigned by tradition never to marry. The story is
related through the narration of Tita?s great niece (Esperanza?s daughter), heir of Tita?s
cookbook. Tita must care for her mother until her death. Tita and Pedro fall in love, and he asks...