Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|No Reservations |
Actors: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade
Director: Scott Hicks
Genres: Comedy, Drama
A perfectionist chef addicted to her work struggles to adjust when her sister passes away leaving her with a little girl to raise and a new soup-chef threatens to take over her kitchen with his high-spirited and free-wheel... more »
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A Recipe for Life
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 07/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's a light, good-hearted nature to "No Reservations" that's quite pleasing, if a little predictable. This is just as much a story of life as it is a story of romance, and we all know the formulas such films follow: a person's world is rearranged when someone new enters his or her life, and the laughter, tears, and conflict will be plentiful. I expected nothing less from "No Reservations," which is probably why I was able to enjoy it. This is a charming, funny, touching film that casts away any qualms about being formulaic, which is a good thing for anyone in need of romantic escapism. I don't dare question how realistic the events of the film are; this is not a film that bothers with realism, but rather with the idealism that life is supposed to work in a specific way. At times, it's a welcome diversion.
The plot concerns Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the executive chef of an upscale New York restaurant. We immediately get the sense that hers is a very organized, controlled world; while not explicitly critical or demeaning, she is fiercely protective of what she's worked so hard for, namely her position at the restaurant. Here's a person that's strong on the outside but deeply insecure on the inside, exemplified by her inability to receive criticism (never complain about the food she prepares; you'll definitely regret it). For these reasons, she's ordered into therapy. She pretty much dominates her own sessions with incessant discussions on food preparation--appetizing, yes, but not exactly enlightening. Her therapist (Bob Balaban) is initially unable to ask any questions or give any advice. Clearly, she's afraid to let anyone examine her personal life.
Her world is turned upside down when her sister dies in a car accident, leaving behind a daughter, Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Because there's no father in the picture, Kate is now faced with the responsibility of caring for her. But will she know what to do? A child has never been a part of her life; being a chef is the only life she's ever known. She knows virtually nothing about Zoe, not even her favorite color. Furthermore, Zoe has lost her mother, meaning she'll need the extra emotional support Kate may not be able to give. It will be an adjustment, and a tough one at that; not only is Zoe unwilling to eat, she's also unwilling to let Kate get close.
In this regard, she takes right after her aunt, whose defensiveness runs on high after a new chef is hired. Nick (Aaron Eckhart) is a man with a bright, free-spirited approach to cooking: he listens to opera; he actively engages the other chefs; he's charming and witty. Kate finds him threatening, and initially treats him as such by being cold, critical, and distant. But when she decides to bring Zoe to work with her one night, she notices how well Zoe and Nick get along. He even gets her to eat. Thus begins a strained friendship that the audience knows will progress into something more. Of course, that's exactly what the audience hopes will happen. Quite simply, Nick is fun to be around and Kate is not; their coming together allows her to lighten up and let someone in emotionally.
As the film progresses, the relationship between Kate, Zoe, and Nick develops, not necessarily as it would for a family, but rather as it would for a group of friends. I never once thought that Zoe would ever see Nick and Kate as parental figures, which is just as mature on Zoe's part as it is sad. Likewise, I never once thought that Kate saw herself as a mother, despite her growing love for Zoe. The dynamic between these three characters is complex, especially when a number of other conflicts are introduced. For one thing, Zoe fragile state causes problems at school. It also threatens to ruin everything Kate has tried to accomplish. Both are trying, but it's clear that a lot of emotional baggage remains.
Herein lies the film's major weakness: most of Kate's emotional baggage is undefined. We do get a couple of brief mentions, such as her mother's passion for cooking and her father's absence from her life. But none of this is properly developed, and that made her controlling behavior seem less understandable and more uncalled for. Still, I was taken by the dramatic tension between her and Nick; watching an uptight person letting their guard down is both entertaining and uplifting. And I was definitely moved by her attempts with Zoe, who's just begging to be hugged and soothed and reassured that everything would be all right. There's a moment when she watches home video of her mother; Kate sneaks in, sits down, and holds Zoe tightly. You can practically see the emotion dripping off the screen, which is probably why it's effective.
Equally as effective is the growing love between Kate and Nick--a love that can go in any direction but ultimately treads the expected path. I've seen enough cinematic romances to understand that this is appropriate, maybe even necessary. "No Reservations" is the kind of film we occasionally want to see, if not for plausibility, then for the satisfaction of temporarily disappearing into a fantasy. It plays on our personal desires, namely those of happiness and well being in the midst of a crazy world. At one point, Kate says, "I wish there was a cookbook for life"; I found this clever, despite the overuse of the basic message. If it's possible for me to appreciate this kind of dialogue--or even a film with this kind of dialogue--then I think it's safe to assume that it's possible for you, too."
Ron | Jersey | 03/29/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This romantic comedy is likable but extremely predictable. Catherine Zeta Jones plays a chef at an upscale NYC restaurant who has devoted her life to being a great chef. So much so that she doesn't have time for anything else. Her sister is killed in a car wreck on the way to visit leaving her with her daughter to raise as her own. Meanwhile the new assistant chef is a carefree guy who brings big changes with him. Can you see it coming? Catherine doesn't like him at first, but then....Yes you guessed it. The story is okay and the acting is good enough, but there is nothing new here. This is a good rental to watch with the girlfriend or wife."
Never trust the re-make
G. Ferniany | USA | 08/02/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is based on a german film named "Bella Martha" which is actually one of my favorite movies. I couldn't even get through this one because it was so horrible in comparison.
The plot is basically the same - a control obsessed chef is burdened with her dead sister's daughter, and a new hire is making the moves on her. The characters have a lot more depth, though, and the cinematography is perfect with the different moods of the movie. If you were tempted at all by the plot of "No Reservations" go rent "Bella Martha" instead. Mostly Martha"
Light and fluffy and delicious!
Lora Singleton | SC, USA | 02/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of people seem to be saying, "Don't watch this awful remake! Go watch Mostly Martha, the original!" I say, by all means, watch Mostly Martha, but don't bypass this version.
It's true that if I had watched this without having seen the original version, Mostly Martha, I would probably have liked it even better. This American version is really too close to the original, right down to the appearance of several characters (Leah, the sous-chef, for instance). For this reason, if you try to compare the two, it comes off as a half-hearted reproduction, Mostly Martha's reheated leftovers.
In many ways, it does lack some of the heart and depth of Mostly Martha. The characters are not as deep and intense, so their relationships aren't as meaningful to the audience. Kate is not quite as tightly wound as Martha, not quite as isolated--so her sudden inheritance of a child and the infringement of a stranger in her kitchen are less difficult and less meaningful. Zoe is much happier and lively than Lina ever is, and is not as scarred by her mother's death, so her struggle to accept Kate is again less meaningful. Nick, I felt, was outstanding--he was different from Mario, but equally effective. I actually preferred Nick, in fact, as I found Mario bordered on annoying at times, while Nick was more appealing all the way through (and Aaron Eckhart is certainly better looking!).
So why did I give it four stars? Well, I'm a sucker for a good romance. I feel that if I hadn't seen Mostly Martha, I would have given it four stars as a good romantic comedy. That is what is, and that is, I think, all it tries to be. It is fun to watch, the characters are sympathetic, the acting is excellent, the chemistry between Zeta-Jones and Eckhart is wonderful, and the plot is engaging, if predictable.
I also don't mean to say that No Reservations loses all the heart of Mostly Martha. I think it retains it pretty well, while simply lightening up the plot a little. Overall, I actually prefer this version in many ways. I preferred the story without the presence of Lina's father, who to me interrupted the story considerably in Mostly Martha. And if the characters here are a little less intense, they were easier to relate to, for me at least. I found the romance between the leads more convincing here, and the ending considerably more satisfying than Mostly Martha's. Kate and Nick, by the end, actually seemed a little more human than Martha and Mario ever did, and if the ending is predictable...well, some of us like happy endings!
No Reservations may not fill you up with emotion like Mostly Martha, so don't coming looking for a full-course meal. This a essentially romantic comedy, the soufflés of the movie world: light and fluffy and delicious."