TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘El Sabor de la Navidad’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2023 by - September 16, 2023
TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘El Sabor de la Navidad’

I hate that there’s an artsy Mexican movie that I was tough on for one flaw. Meanwhile, Alejandro Lozano’s El Sabor de la Navidad is queso and I like it just as much. Do not watch this show hungry like I did because as per the title, a lot of this is food porn. Anyway, let’s get into character introductions because there are two major plot points here.

The first involves Chava (Juan Carlos Medellin), a Santa Claus impersonator helping a friend. The second involves Valeria (Mariana Treviño), a cagey cook who reluctantly hires Genaro (Andrés Almeida), a down on his luck guy. Their big job is to cook a Yucatan style Christmas dinner for a family inviting over their estranged trans daughter.

What makes the film passable is how it focuses on the characters. Any other production would keep their attractive actors that way. Thankfully, Lozano, producer Salma Hayek Pinault and crew make these characters relatable. Valeria looks like someone who has stressed cried and eaten during Christmas because we all do.

Also, I can’t remember nor care to look up the last Christmas movie I saw, but the Chava scenes feel more dynamic even in their simplicity. The family scenes are basically affluence porn which you know what, let them live. The Valeria scenes have a lot of shots of stoves, because why fix something that isn’t broken. Anyway, I can’t wait for payday so I can eat what that rich Mexican family is eating.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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