Like Water for Chocolate

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The movie starts off with the board of admissions at Princeton University opening up yet another application. One person reads the essay submitted, and that’s when the movie begins to take off. The essay is written by Flor’s (Paz Vega) daughter, Cristina, who tells us that her greatest inspiration in life is her mother. She says that when she was very young, her father left her and her mother alone in Mexico. We then see mother and daughter eating a meal at the table. Cristina tells us that her mother did everything possible to not let her daughter see how upset she was about her father leaving. She would even step out of sight of her daughter so that she would not see her cry. While Cristina was very well aware of this, she would never let on.

One day (a few years later), Flor decides that it is time for the two of them to leave Mexico and enter the U.S. to live with her cousin, Monica. They travel there in “coach class” – i.e. apparently illegally and settle down in L.A. with their relative. We find out that Flor is working hard to earn some money for her daughter and herself (despite knowing very little English). A few days/weeks later, Monica finds a new job for her cousin (because Flor decides she can’t work two jobs – she needs to spend more time keeping an eye on her daughter) – as a housekeeper for a rich suburban family. They go together to this family’s home for the interview.

We’re now introduced to the Clasky family, who’re sitting around the pool waiting for them. They gesture for Monica and Flor to join them. Flor is then introduced to Deborah Clasky (a rather neurotic, workaholic-type) who is no longer working, but is a stay-at-home mum, Evelyn (Deborah’s mum, who’s a bit of an alcoholic) and Deborah's two children Bernice and her brother, Georgie. Flor gets the job, for which she is paid a nice amount of money for.

She starts work the following day. We are then introduced to Adam Sandler’s character – John Clasky – who seems to be every bit the patient father. When his son wakes up in the morning, we find out that his mother and he had an argument the day before, so he asks his father whether he’s mad at him too. John says “no”. Deborah, on finding out about this, is furious. She insists that if John and she are to be happy with each other they have to agree on matters like this, instead of taking sides. She seems to grow increasingly irritates with his apparent calm and logic. He walks out sighing to himself and enters the kitchen where he meets Flor. He finds out she speaks no English when Deborah walks in, red-eyed, but trying not to show she’s been crying. She insists on taking the kids to school while John heads off to work. Despite the language barrier, it’s obvious that Flor notices the rough patch this family is trying to work through.

We then see John Clasky at his restaurant, where he works as a chef. Apparently, a New York Times dining reviewer is eating at his restaurant at that very minute and John and his crew seem rather nervous. The next day, Bernice is studying for her finals: her father is quizzing her on American history. They are interrupted by Flor and Deborah who enter carrying lots of shopping bags. They’ve bought some clothes for Bernice. Bernice’s face lights up when she opens the bags and begins to try on the clothes. She struggles to put on the jacket and eventually takes it off because it doesn’t fit. Her face falls when she sees that she size is too small. Her mother replies with a comment that doesn’t help: “I’m sure you’ll manage to lose all that extra weight!” Bernice starts to cry and says she needs a moment alone. She shuts the door behind her. Deborah doesn’t seem to respect this need for space whilst John does – they disagree again. Flor decides that this is a good time for her to go home, and John drops her off at the bus stop. On the way, he begins to cry – and this is unusual to Flor – who is more accustomed to seeing more masculine sides of men.

That...
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