Mediterranean Food is FLIFF's Ménage à Trois

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Mediterranean Food
6:30 and 8:30 p.m. tonight at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, as part of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Call 954-525-3456, or visit fliff.com.

Mediterranean Food (Dieta Mediterránea) starts with a little nugget of wisdom, spoken in Spanish but appearing on the screen in English subtitles: "Behind every great woman, there's not always a great man." 

In retrospect, perhaps it should've been, "Behind, inside, and on top of every great woman, there could be more than one great man."

Hmm. This probably isn't the foodie film you think it's going to be. But there's much, much more debauchery than even a meal at elBulli, for sure. (There's even a cameo of the famous restaurant late in the flick, so hang on to your utensils.)

Mediterranean Food tells the story of Sofia (Olivia Molina), a girl born in 1968 and raised in the kitchen of her parents' restaurant. Eventually she develops a passion for cooking, but Mom and Pop are loath to let her enter into a career dominated by men. The hard-headed Sofia, a fiery femme fatale whose veins are pumped full of passion blended with impulse, forges ahead, gaining experience under the watchful eye of Frank (Alfonso Bassave), an ambitious restaurateur who recognizes her talent -- and wants a slice of her pie (if you know what I mean). Anyhow, her childhood friend, Toni, can tell Frank is up to no good so he cockblocks him, and the games begin. 

Over and over again, Frank offers her a life of excitement, opportunities to escape the humdrum, and a direct path to her passion for the culinary arts. But all the while Toni (Paco León) provides emotional stability, something especially appealing since Sofia grew up being acutely aware of her father's (Roberto Álvarez) constant indiscretions. What ensues is a love affair as unpredictable as Sofia's sardine and chocolate sandwiches and as tasty as a plate of paella.

Director and Spanish screenwriter Joaquín Oristrell, who has become known for his satires and comedies, makes a dramatic debut with this film, a 102-minute tale chock-full of interesting ingredients. (Yolanda García Serrano co-wrote.) His previous FLIFF hits include Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health, starring Penelope Cruz, and Unconscious with Lenore Watling. 

It's true the movie gets off to a slow start, but the pace picks up as Sofia gets past her teenage years. After the second half begins, if the viewer so much as takes a potty break, he or she will miss pivotal moments. 

Take a bite of this sweet-as-a-besito de coco, hot-as-an-aji caballero Spanish film Tuesday night. Your stomach--and your hormones--will thank you for the satisfaction.

N.B. To really get guests in the mood, Carrabba's Italian Grill will be cooking up some eats onsite before the flick. Then when audience members get all worked up after the movie, they can bring ticket stubs over to Coyote Ugly (214 SW Second Street, Fort Lauderdale, 954-764-UGLY) for a celebratory party. The first drink will be free and, hopefully, so will the lovin'.

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