Friday, August 10, 2012

No Reservations (2007) [PG] ***

Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the chef at a tony little New York City restaurant. She's temperamental, hypersensitive to criticism about her cuisine, and she rules her kitchen with an iron hand. Her philosophy is that the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself. And so she drives everyone crazy, including Paula (Patricia Clarkson) the restaurant owner, who has told Kate that either she gets therapy or she's fired.

Then tragedy strikes. Kate's sister is killed in an auto accident, and suddenly Kate finds herself the guardian of her pre-teen niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Kate does not have a clue about how to comfort grieving Zoe, about how much love she needs or about what she eats. In addition, when Kate returns to the restaurant a week later, she discovers that Paula has hired a new sous chef, Nick (Aaron Eckhart). Nick loves Italian cuisine, and he sings opera while he cooks. He's completely changed the atmosphere in the kitchen, for the better. Nick is attracted to Kate from the first moment, but the thing keeping them apart is Kate's fear that Nick is after her job; she doesn't realize that he took the sous chef job because he wants to learn from her.

The real question in the viewer's mind is whether Kate will wake up and realize how good Nick is for her, both personally and professionally, before she drives him away. Zoe acts as the catalyst bringing Kate and Nick together, and in some ways Abigail Breslin is the best part of the film, especially when she's on screen with both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Kate and Nick do not have much romantic chemistry, the screenplay is not particularly original or inventive, and Philip Glass' musical score is a little too techno-futuristic. Regardless, if you like romantic comedies around the subject of food and restaurants, films like Eat Pray LoveJulie & Julia and Tortilla Soup or if you enjoyed Abigail Breslin in Definitely, Maybe, then you will likely enjoy No Reservations. 

Labels: comedy, drama, food, romance   

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