The life of a top chef changes when she becomes the guardian of her young niece.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: Kate
Aaron Eckhart: Nick
''What we always do. You tell me what to do and then I'll go behind your back and do whatever I want.''
No Reservations begins with unique Kate, a short tempered chef running her own kitchen. Whenever a customer complains about the smallest thing Kate drags them out of the restaurant. When her sister and niece come to visit, they fall into a deadly car accident and her sister dies. After trying to recuperate after the death of her sister and the raising of her niece she returns to work a week later. Only to discover a new chef working there without her consent. Then things really start hitting it off! The Stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin all provide stellar performances which have us the audience instantly magnetized to their respective characters.
More interesting in sharper, less sympathetic roles, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the icier aspects of her role spot on, but she is markedly less arresting when her character turns warm and fuzzy. The script also doesn't really respect her character much, at times she is made to look overly foolish and insensitive in her early scenes as a struggling mother figure.
Aaron Eckhart seems to be playing more of a plot device as Nick, but he does it well, and the requisite sparks occur with Zeta-Jones. Cornering the market on playing put-upon children, Abigail Breslin is fine as Zoe, even though she has to be glumly depressed for much of the film.
The usually more dimensional Patricia Clarkson plays Paula as a surprisingly brittle, opportunistic character, while Bob Balaban isn't given much to do at all as Kate's therapist but act as a bromide. Stuart Dryburgh's autumnal cinematography makes all the food look good, the stars also as a feast for our eyes, and minimalist composer Philip Glass provided the soulful soundtrack dominated by Puccini, Verdi, and Flotow arias.
Exotic food has an intimate bond with exotic music, especially opera arias, since time immemorial. But with someone like Phillip Glass as the director and composer of soundtracks, I expected a little unorthodox numbers from the good old days along with Nissun Dorma and Piano Concerto No.5 on E flat major. Nonetheless, this movie keeps you entertained for every single minute without boring or stressing you for even a moment. It melts in your mouth like the finest quality Creme Fraiche.
The movie in of itself is very sweet and well acted. Especially all the acting stuff between Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Breslin is good too, she plays her character very much the same as in Little Miss Sunshine, except this movie she deals with loss. The other interesting thing is that No Reservations really attempts to help you understand the elements and physics of food. It goes into intricate details to describe various dishes. The story tries it's best to really incorporate the many different recipes into our minds. Not to mention the music, the music in this flick was very fancy-french too, giving it a very solid edge to proceedings, reminding me of a real acted out Ratatouille styled Chef affair and really it all ties together and works effectively.
''I can't believe I'm actually paying for these suggestions.''
Its not just comedy but tragedy on offer here, when Zoe realizes her mother was not around anymore, when she looks at pictures or was watching videos, then tears formulate in her young eyes.
However, these moments of sadness are fleeting, theres plenty more to lift our spirits to new heights, and I feel this is what Director Scott Hicks wanted to achieve. The genre title is romantic comedy but the film genre feels confused.
Acting is not really an issue here or a factor. I find it difficult to question casting because I find it difficult to find any fault. One thing it did achieve was to wet my appetite watching the countless mouth watering dishes served.
I was amused by Kate's reactions to customers whom hassled her, something else that was a positive touch. I feel a lot was on display here, and a lot of little plot threads in between the lines within that were interestingly hinted at.
To conclude, a mesmerizing romantic drama which also gives us an insight into the world of being a chef and creating miraculous dishes. There is imagination, an artful form in the shape of cooking. Scott Hicks has crafted an amazing film, which has a soul, it has love, fire and emotion. Also quite frankly is a tad underrated and unjustly criticized. At it's beating heart is what lies the most important factor, the factor being a feel good piece, a feel good film that never lets down. A film which beats us into submission with music mixed with food spiced up by the prospect of new found love. The characters make us fall in love too as we see them interact with each other and we become absorbed into their world and their ways.