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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Woman On Top
Woman On Top
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 29, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

I hadn't seen "Woman On Top" in theaters, but certainly like star Penelope Cruz ("All About My Mother", "All The Pretty Horses") and a quote at the top of the back of the box from USA Today boldly promised "Plenty of steamy sex!". Although that certainly did sound interesting, the film has more in the way of charm. What it has more of is charm, as "Woman" is a beautifully filmed, if light, comedy with some good performances.

"Woman On Top" is the story of Isabella(Cruz), a woman born with motion sickness whenever she's not in control. She has to drive, she has to lead in dancing, and so on. Her husband Toninho doesn't like her need to be in control in certain ways, and gets caught with another woman. Isabella goes to San Fransisco, attempting to start again, hanging out with her friend Monica(Harold Perrineau Jr). She quickly finds a job at a local cooking school, where enrollment quickly rises due not only to the fact that Isabella is beautiful, but she has a genuine love and appreciation for the beauty and smells of various foods.

One day, she's found by Cliff Lloyd(Mark Fuerstein of "What Women Want"), a TV executive who thinks that Isabella's cooking could translate perfectly to TV. Toninho comes to San Fransisco looking for Isabella and crashes his way into a position on her TV show. Isabella must then decide whether to accept the apologies of Toninho or go with Cliff, who's also fallen for her. Strangely, the film doesn't quite work as well with the romance as it does with Isabella. Cruz and the two male leads have limited chemistry, but Cruz herself is winning and enjoyable, and with only 91 minutes of movie to carry, she does it quite well.

It all begins to fall a little flat with some events towards the end, but for the main course of the movie, I found it to be light and entertaining.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Woman On Top" really shows the kind of work that Fox is capable of. The movie looks beautiful throughout, and Fox's presentation of the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio(mistakenly listed as 1.85:1 on the box) looks beautiful. Sharpness and detail is fantastic throughout, with some of the gorgeous outdoor sequences looking particularly stunning.

Colors are really the most impressive element; there are fruits that look so colorful and vibrant that you want to reach into the screen and grab them. Clothes often look bright and bold throughout. As for flaws, I really didn't find anything noticeable or distracting. A couple of very slight traces of pixelation appear very briefly. The print though, is perfectly clear and clean with no distracting marks or scratches.

It's a beautiful looking movie with nicely composed images and bright, bold colors. Cinematography is from Thierry Arbogast, who is more widely known for working on all of director Luc Besson's films. Fox's presentation brings it home well in a very "film-like" presentation with flaws being extremely minor.

SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is one of enjoyable, but somewhat minimal activity. The enjoyable bossa nova soundtrack flows freely from all speakers during most of the movie, sounding rich and full. Surrounds are also used for some minor ambient sounds. Generally, "Woman On Top" appropriately uses sounds for the kind of material it is; usually comedies don't even use audio as well as this film does. Dialogue is also clear and easily understood.

MENUS:: The main menu offers some enjoyable slight animation with Cruz's picture in the background and music playing. Sub-menus aren't animated, but are easily navigated and attractive.

EXTRAS:: Theatrical trailer (1.85:1/Dolby 2.0), International Trailer(1.85:1/Dolby 2.0), 3 TV Spots. Also, trailers for other Fox titles - "Ever After", "French Kiss", "One Fine Day", "Picture Perfect", "Prelude To A Kiss" and "A Walk In The Clouds".

Final Thoughts:

Positive: The movie isn't terribly original, but is cute, charming and funny. It comes out on Valentine's Day and would be a good romantic rental. Also, audio - and especially video - quality is strong.

Negative: A commentary or other features might have been fun; $34.98 retail price is something Fox hasn't done that often anymore and it's a little bit much for this disc. Still, it's worth looking at as a romantic rental.

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