Wednesday 13 December 2017

Movie Review: No Reservations (2007)

A romance set in the world of chefs, No Reservations features plenty of quail and saffron sauce but the portions are meager.

In New York City, Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a highly-strung perfectionist chef running her own kitchen at a classy restaurant owned by Paula (Patricia Clarkson). Kate is very much single, obsessive about recipes, runs her life according to a strict set of rules, and her sessions with a therapist (Bob Balaban) are not helping.

Tragedy strikes when Kate's sister perishes in a car crash, and Kate is tasked with looking after her young niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). At the same time Paula hires opera-loving Nick (Aaron Eckhart) as a new sous-chef, disrupting Kate's kitchen dynamics. Kate has to deal with sudden parental responsibilities, look after Zoe's fragile emotions and learn to deal with Nick's expansive style and his romantic overtures.

Directed by Scott Hicks, No Reservations is as bland and predictable as a boring meal at an unfashionable suburban family restaurant. Despite decent production values, a scenic New York City, plenty of talk about exotic food and endless visuals featuring sumptuous dinners under preparation in Kate's kitchen, when it comes to the actual story, the film falls flat.

The film is devoid of humour and any serious drama, so this is neither a romantic comedy nor a tragedy of any sort. No Reservations features a peripheral romance between Kate and Nick, but Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart fail to generate much chemistry. Eckhart is particularly challenged to portray a romantic leading man in a role more suitable for the likes of Owen Wilson. Zeta-Jones swings too far towards the harried professional aspects of Kate's life, and forgets to let her hair down and slip into something more playful to spark the romance.

The film finds a marginally more appealing focus in Zoe's story, the young girl creating a sudden new domestic focus for Kate, and allowing Nick to display his empathy through acts of kindness towards the child.

The answer to the question of whether Kate will make space for some randomness and disorganization in her life is never in doubt. No Reservations purposefully heads to its predictable conclusion, Kate and Nick almost mechanically navigating around the typical obstacles and misunderstanding thrown at their burgeoning relationship. The film talks the high cuisine talk, but delivers entertainment as fresh as last week's fish.

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1 comment:

  1. I saw this on channel 5 when it aired on TV in the UK back in march of this year. was very unimpressed. eckhart I felt was okay, but Zeta Jones just was out of her league. with a better and funnier script, better female lead (sandra bullock, meg ryan, julia roberts) this would have given the movie a boost.


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