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WOMAN ON TOP ($35) is a sweet and funny romantic fable about love, sex, passion and food. Penélope Cruz stars in WOMAN ON TOP as Isabella, a Brazilian woman who suffers from terrible motion sickness since childhood. However, to compensate for her motion sickness, the powers that be have given Isabella has been given an extraordinary culinary gift. Of course, cooking doesn't help her when she needs to move around, but Isabella eventually discovers she doesn't suffer from motion sickness when she does the driving. Isabella’s need to do all the driving spills over into all things, which is how WOMAN ON TOP got its name.

Unfortunately, Isabella's husband Toninho (Murilo Benício) becomes frustrated with the situation and decides that he would like to do the driving for a change. Of course, Isabella catches Toninho doing the driving in another woman's bed. Heartbroken, Isabella flees Brazil, leaving Toninho and their restaurant behind. Landing in San Francisco, Isabella moves in with her childhood friend Monica (Harold Perrineau Jr.) and tries to find work for herself as a chef in the city. Without credentials, Isabella soon discovers that it nearly impossible to get a job until she meets television producer Cliff Lloyd (Mark Feuerstein), who decides to star this incredibly beautiful woman in her own cooking show. Just as Passion Food makes its TV debut, Isabella has her newfound success complicated by the arrival of Toninho, who wants to take her back home to Brazil. The cast of WOMAN ON TOP also includes John de Lancie, Anne Ramsay and Ana Gasteyer.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made WOMAN ON TOP available on DVD in a wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Contrary to the claims on the packaging, WOMAN ON TOP is framed at 2.35:1. The transfer itself is very attractive, offering a crisp and nicely detailed image. Colors are richly vibrant, with the warmer hues appearing quite sumptuous. Flesh tones are wonderfully appealing, but never look overdone. There are no signs of chroma noise or bleeding, despite the vibrancy of the color palette. Blacks are pure, plus the picture produces excellent shadow detail and depth. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight during the presentation.

Since WOMAN ON TOP can be classified as a comedy, I was expecting the sound mix to be rather standard. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack actually exceeds my expectations, with a lively mix that makes good use of the discrete nature of the format. Channel separation is good across the front, as well as from the forward soundstage to the rear. The surround channels are nicely deployed during key moments with directional effects, plus they also provide a good level of ambient sound throughout. Dialogue reproduction is clean and fully intelligible, despite heavy accents on some of the performers. The film's enjoyable music by Luis Bacalov has an exotic and festive quality that the sound mix allows to rise to the surface, without letting it predominate. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound enhance the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A U.S. theatrical trailer and an international trailer for are included on the DVD, as are three TV spots. Bonus trailers for five other romantic themed Fox offerings fill out the video portion of the DVD's extras. The DVD is also web enabled, with links that take one to the WOMAN ON TOP web site.

WOMAN ON TOP is an amusing romantic flick that makes a great date movie. So, if you pick up the DVD, be sure that you share it with someone you love.


Woman on Top


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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