Woman on Top

Synopsis: Isabella is a great cook, making her husband's restaurant in Bahia, Brazil, a success. To control her motion sickness, she must do the driving and be on top during sex, which drives her macho husband, Toninho, to infidelities. Heart-broken, she leaves for San Francisco, moving in with her childhood friend, Monica, a cross-dresser. To mend her heart, she makes an offering to Yemanja, the goddess of the sea. The goddess responds: Isabella no longer loves and the fish in Bahia no longer bite. Stricken, Toninho heads north to get her back; he finds her hosting a popular TV show, Passion Food, courted by its producer. Can he learn humility? Can she find happiness without him?
Director(s): Fina Torres
Production: Fox Searchlight
  3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
92 min

lived a girl named Isabella.

with extraordinary beauty,

Motion sickness.

Her parents tried everything.

Conventional medicine, organized religion,

alternative religion.

Nothing worked...

until Yemanja,

and compensated her with a gift.

Too frail to play with her friends,

in the kitchen with the family cook.

She blossomed into a shy but dazzling girl,

and the hearts of men.

and becoming a famous chef.

Toninho, all of her dreams took flight.

It was love... at first bite.

nothing could ever keep them apart.

new restaurant was the hottest spot in Brazil.

She did all the work.

He got all the credit.

from all over the planet,

melt away in Toninho's irresistible embrace.

sickness only by controlling her motions.

If she always drove,

if she always led,

if she always stayed on top,

everything was just fine.

But some men must always appear to be men,

no matter what it may cost.


Isabella! I'm a man!

I have to be on top sometimes!

Give me the strength, Yemanja. | Please give me the strength to leave him.

And Bahia!

Her prayers were answered.

And thus begins our story of love,

motion sickness

and the art of cooking.




Your attention, please.

flight number 732 from Rio de Janeiro.

- Please, I beg you. | - There is no way I'm gonna do that.

Oh, mon, lady! What planet you from?



Hi. I am Isabella.

Monica Jones is expecting me.

Ah, yes. Of course.

Unfortunately, Ms Monica has been detained.

Detained? What do you mean, detained?

Oh, nothing serious. For her, I mean.

She'll be back in a couple of days. | She's left you a key.

Thank you.

Have you known Ms Monica long?

Yes, since we were children, but she left.

- Bahia has never been the same without her. | - I don't doubt it.

I can't take elevators. I'll walk.

All right.

Thank you.

You're welcome.

Yemanja, goddess of the sea, | she fills our nets with fish every day.

Accept our offerings.

- Have you seen Isabella? | - No, not since last night.

- Is something wrong? | - Serafina, where is Isabella?

Go away!

Hey, hey! Wait, wait!

You are the son of a fisherman. | You must make Yemanja an offering.

She always gives you the best fish. Come on.

You can go to hell, Yemanja!

- Good morning. | - Good morning, Miss Oliveira.

- May I get you a taxi? | - I can't take taxis.

- Thanks. | - Of course not.

Sorry. He's no longer the manager.

Do you have any openings in the kitchen?

- Washing dishes? | - No. I'm a chef.

Of course you are, my dear. | And I'm Jeanne Moreau.

I do wonderful codfish balls,

and I am known for my coconut-basted | lobster with passionfruit dip.

- Do you do fish and chips? | - Sorry?

Fish and chips. It's our most | popular special, Thursday nights.

Yes, I can make fish and chips. | Maybe in a spicy batter...

We're fully staffed.

- Or plain batter. | - Really fully staffed.


Monsieur Laroche?

- I'm Isabella. Isabella Oliveira. | - And?

I was the chef at Yemanja in Bahia. | Remember?

Oh, Brazil. I remember.

- But you, I'm afraid... | - You gave me your card.

You spoke of a possibility | of a teaching position.

Oh, I can't really hire novices.

The spicy seafood soup.

Crustaceans marooned | in a most exquisite fragrant broth,

laced with fiery chilies.

Passion food. Food of the gods.

But it's too late. | The semester has already started.

Perhaps next year?

Hyperventilation. The souffl fell... again!

It's a class for the "public gnral." | A two-week course.

I'm sure you wouldn't be interested. | Are you?

What happened? Where are the fish?

You shouldn't curse Yemanja!

Good morning. I am Isabella Oliveira, | and I am your new teacher.

I come from a place called Bahia | in the northeast of Brazil.

There we have a very unique way of cooking.

So I will not give you my recipes.

I will show you what inspires me in the hope | that you will find your own inspiration. OK?

I think that to cook well, you must bring | all your feelings and experience

to the act of creation.

Let's start with my passion:

Chili peppers.

They're from the Americas, and were found | here long before the arrival of Columbus.

Hold them in your hand. Notice the colors.

Now sniff.

OK, what do you smell? | Can you describe the sensation?

How about you?

I smell...

a walk on a moonlit beach in Acapulco.

When did you become a poet?

What do you expect me to say? | It smells like a vegetable?

So now here's my favorite. | "Malagueta" pepper.

Don't be fooled by its tiny size. | On the heat scale it is a very hot ten.

But what I love most about it is its smell.

Its aroma.

And a flavor you can never forget.

So when you work with the chilies, | remember to coat your fingers with oil,

so your skin won't burn.

The smooth flavor of a chili | is found on the outside part.

The part that burns are the ribs and seeds.

That's where the fire comes from.

I'm sorry.

I'll be fine. Really. I'll be fine.

with thoughts from author Claudia Hunter,

Men They Hate," has just hit the shelves.

Are you one of them?

who emotionally jerks you around?

charming, strutting peacock,

hidden away in a small dark kitchen?

Shut up.

Go home! Go home! Christ.

We have no fish, no customers, no chef. | Help yourself to whatever's left in the kitchen.

Thanks, Mr Toninho.

Hey, come on, man. Don't be like that.

Ave Maria! Look at the painting!

All of our fish, there they are.

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Vera Blasi

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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