Woman on Top


Woman on Top (2000)


Critic Consensus: Despite Penelope Cruz's beauty and charm, the movie is too tepid to be a romance and too silly to be believable. And the movie is too eager to please with an ending that seems more like a cop out.


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Movie Info

Love, sex, and food combine in this sensuous romantic comedy. Isabella (Penelope Cruz) is a master chef who suffers from severe motion sickness, requiring her to be in control of her movements at all times. This need extends to the bedroom, but her husband Tonino (Murilo Benicio), who owns the restaurant where she works, doesn't like to make love in the fashion suggested by the title. This is hardly the only thing about their relationship that she finds stifling, and when Isabella discovers Tonino in bed with another woman, she leaves for America, where with the help of cross-dressing friend "Monica" (Harold Perrineau Jr.), she becomes a star as the host of a TV cooking show, Passion Foods Live. Woman on Top was the first American film from Venezuelan director Fina Torres. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Penelope Cruz
as Isabella
Anne Ramsay
as TV Director
Ana Gasteyer
as Claudia
Analu De Castro
as Isabella Age 2
Thais de Sa Curvelo
as Isabella Age 5
Eliane Guttman
as Isabella's Mother
Eduardo Mattedi
as Isabella's Father
Marilice Santos
as Sexy Neighbor
Giba Conceicao
as Troubadour No. 1
Joaquim Pinto
as Troubadour No. 2
Veve Calazans
as Troubadour No. 3
Clea Simoes
as Serafina
Tom Curti
as Maitre'D
John Crook
as Seafood Restaurant Manager
Jonas Bloch
as Pierre Laroche
Michel Bercovitch
as Academy Student
Jerry Penacoli
as Tom Kelly
Inaldo Santana
as Angry Fisherman
Jorge Maia
as Yemanja Waiter
Dizoneth Santos
as Prison Officer
Phil Miler
as Gaffer
Roberta Kennedy
as Bar Waitress
Jeff Scott Flores
as Bar Regular
Sergio Maciel
as Flower Delivery Man
B. Chico Purdiman
as Guard No. 1
Bob Saenz
as Guard No. 2
Thomas Hieatt
as Hippie Prisoner
David Herman
as Photographer
Edlon Tupi
as Jail Guard
Ines Cardoso
as Food Stylist
Adele Proom
as Niko's Mother
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Critic Reviews for Woman on Top

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (30)

Hopefully, somebody soon -- maybe Billy Bob Thornton with the upcoming All the Pretty Horses -- will give this girl a real movie.

Jan 1, 2000

Cruz has everything it takes to be a big star, except maybe, in this case, the right movie.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

A dish that's pretty easy to swallow, but if it could have borrowed some of Isabella's more potent spices, it might have boasted a more lasting flavor.

Jan 1, 2000

Benicio and Cruz (who displays more cleavage than kitchen skills) can coast only so long on their physical appeal; their skin-deep characters quickly wear out their welcome.

Jan 1, 2000

There's a forced sprightliness, here, that reminds me too much of how people get at the end of a party -- you know, when they've stopped having fun but can't quite muster the will to leave or clean up the trash and vomit.

Jan 1, 2000

A succession of Cruz close-ups -- as striking as they may be -- do not a feature make. One also could use a plot, a soupon of conflict and a heroine with more substance than an inflatable doll.

Jan 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Woman on Top

A cook moves from Brazil to San Francisco after she catches her husband cheating. Motifs of sex, food, and voodoo comprise the plots of this light-hearted fairy tale. Penelope Cruz plays a woman who is so prone to motion sickness that she can only enjoy sex if she is on top, which drives her husband into the arms of another woman. The only way such a plot is remotely believable is if one suspends all disbelief. My brain is capable of such deceptive gymnastics. Instead, I found the film's light-hearted whimsy annoying and worthy of more than one eyeroll. Cruz is sexy and fun, but into the second act, I felt that she had ceased to care as much as I. Overall, unless foolish farce is your thing, stay the hell away from this film.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Other than crazy sexy Penelope Cruz, I think Harold Perrineau was my favorite part! Sassy crossdresser. Fab! However, I think the story kinda lacked and shouldn't have ended like it did (she went back to the jerk who cheated on her?! Really?!) ... BUT! I did like the fairytale aspect of it (I'm such a sucker for that kind of stuff) and it was pretty sexy.

Jennifer D
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

FUCK!!!! Damn stupid film! It was going brilliantly: Penelope falls in love with Mr. handsome, slick and smooth, he treats her like crap, so she leaves and then thanks to a nifty witchcraft subplot has her love for him taken away. She goes to America where she's a success - getting her own cooking show, but husband follows and tries everything to get her back. Meanwhile she meets another guy who's genuinely decent and infinitely more likeable, but instead of bringing out "the passion" in him (this movie is all about "passion"), she undoes the spell and goes back to her ex!! Sure, to start with he lets her go on top, and doesn't shove her away in the kitchen anymore, but he never really changes and you don't believe that within a few weeks he won't be cheating on her again. All through the film I found myself wishing he would get hit by a tram (this being set in San Francisco), but no. Penelope Cruz is good in this and it does feel a tad biographical: woman goes to America to make the most of her talents but everyone just wants to see her breasts. In my head I'm going to imagine that she didn't go back with the greasy latin crooner, but as that's only in my head this film only deserves two stars.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

It was alright.

Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

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