Starring: Penélope Cruz, Murilo Benício, Harold Perrineau Jr.
Director: Fina Torres
Running Time: 92 mins
Woman On Top is an American film about a Brazilian woman who, after discovering that her boyfriend has been cheating, moves to San Francisco to start a new life. A gifted chef, she is soon given the opportunity of a lifetime to host her own TV cooking show.
This film isn’t only a tedious watch from start to finish, but is also a frustrating experience, given that it just doesn’t know what it is. Sometimes comedic, sometimes dramatic, and even sometimes roaming into a world of fantasy, Woman On Top is a hugely messy and incoherent film that never provides any reason for you to stay interested in its appalling story.
The most disappointing thing about films like these is not only their own failings, but the fact that they bring down talented people, in this case Penélope Cruz. Sure, she may not be the world’s greatest actress, and this was a much earlier English-language role for her, but Cruz has still shown herself able to put in a really strong performance, in both comedic and dramatic realms.
Unfortunately, however, she’s landed with a mediocre script, and as a result doesn’t put in a good enough performance. The film too often focuses on looking at her character’s natural beauty, and that means that Cruz doesn’t have much opportunity to give the character any real depth or emotion, meaning that I didn’t care one bit about her throughout the film.
And when you don’t bother about the fate of the character you’re meant to be supporting, a film can really go south quickly. Woman On Top attempts to revive your interest with vibrant colours and a Brazilian soundtrack (both of which actually becoming excruciatingly annoying by the end), but it never manages to salvage the horrific story.
If director Fina Torres had stuck to one genre, then the film would have been okay. However, the film is a painfully messy mash of romantic comedy, romantic drama, personal drama, and fantasy (which feels horribly out of place whenever it’s mentioned), and there’s never any consistency to make a compelling story in which we have realistic character growth, making the film a truly frustrating watch.
Overall, I was bored out of my mind with Woman On Top. It’s a messy, frustrating and unconvincing film that doesn’t even know what it’s trying to be. The performances are poor, the directing, scoring and more are annoying, and it all comes together to make a truly forgettable film, and that’s why it gets a 4.0 from me.