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"No Reservations" is not a great film, nor does it pretend to be. It is
very predictable and follows the formula used in countless other
movies. Despite that, it give you everything you want from this type of
film and is better than many of the sequels that have come out this
Catherine Zeta Jones is as beautiful as ever. There is a nice dose of Verdi and Puccini opera arias, and Abigail Breslin steals the film like she did with "Little Miss Sunshine." I have not liked Aaron Eckert in the past, but in this film he brings happiness to the otherwise dour Zeta Jones.
Some of the professional critics said they like the original German film "Mostly Martha" better, but I thought that "No reservations" improved on the original in every possible way. The only valid criticism I could find was that Catherine Zeta Jones is too beautiful to be believable as a lonely chef. That is a flaw I can live with.
If you are looking for a break from the so-called Summer "action" films, "No Reservations" is not very original, but it certainly fits the bill. The only drawback is that you will definitely leave the theater feeling really hungry for good food.
I loved the German film (Mostly Martha) that is the basis of this remake, and I was worried that the transition to Hollywood would spoil all the things that made the original so delightful. But I was very pleasantly surprised. There is a substantial plot change, but it doesn't wreck the movie, and a lot of the original dialog is kept word-for-word. Even if you know nothing about the original film, this is a lovely romantic comedy. During the sold-out preview show that I attended, people were laughing at the right moments and feeling moved at the right times too, and the casting was spot on - Catherine Zeta-Jones is perfect as the work-obsessed Kate dealing with the disruption of her perfectly-ordered life and Aaron Eckhart is irresistible with his mop of hair and those dimples. And what can you say about Abigail Breslin except that she's the most natural child actor working today. If you like romantic comedies, you'll like this one - it's smart, charming and you're rooting for the couple from the minute they meet. I can recommend this without reservations.
Unlike the trailers imply for this movie, "No Reservations" is more a family drama rather than a romantic comedy. There is lavish bitter dark pathos of death in the beginning of the movie and the more colorful look at restaurant cooking while there are bits of humor scattered like sweets throughout the movie. There are some amazing close up scenes that really grab the attention of the audience with the emotions and captivating context of the scenes, the color motif is brilliant. Overall, the script is basic and mostly predictable with some good tie-ins and closures. It's Catherine Zeta Jones that really makes this movie deliciously sparkle. Entertaining and fun for the summer with good flashes of cooking on part with "Ratatouille" that came out just a little earlier. As an aside, Patricia Clarkson had an earlier role in another cooking film, a romantic, comedy fantasy entitled "Simply Irresistible" (1999) with Sarah Michlle Geller in a more gracious supporting role. Seven out of Ten Stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Go to the video store and get the original. I do not understand why
Hollywood has that need to take a perfect foreign movie and remake it.
"Mostly Martha" or "Bella Martha" has a much better cast. Beginning
with the heroine Martina Gedeck, who convinced me much more in the role
of the work-obsessed perfectionist than the more famous Catherine Zeta
Jones, to the Italian cook and the niece suddenly deprived of her
mother and forced to live with an aunt, not fit for child-rearing.
In many ways, the American version of the movie is a copy of the German original. They just exchanged the actors. However, they also changed the story because it would have been difficult and not very believable to materialize a father for the little girl in an American context.
I was thinking about that. Maybe the father could have been Puerto Rican, or Cuban, or Mexican. Well, there are so many "guest workers" in the U.S. Take your pick. But I doubt that any of them would have shown up to shoulder the responsibility as the Italian father did in the original. Therefore, the American movie leaves that part out but keeps the Italian cook. And by doing this the whole story changes. In the original "Martha" is so removed from reality that she thinks it is okay to send her niece off with a complete stranger in a foreign country.
The American "Martha" is softer and therefore the movie is sweeter and does not have that edge the German movie has.
In the original the "Italian" cook is not so good looking but much more charming , the little girl is more of a brat but much more believable and "Martha" is more representative of a career woman in today's world than the watered down version we are presented in the American version. And the whole opera music in the American version was very annoying. I loved the Italian songs in the original and bought the CD.
Hollywood recognized that "Mostly Martha" was a great movie. Maybe the distribution companies should have put it in more theaters or it should have been shown in English without subtitles. In any case, the original is so much better. By the way this reminds me of another remake. "Shall we dance" is one of my favorites in the original Japanese version and totally forgettable in the American version.
This movie had all the potential and makings of a great feel good,
great love story...the cast is perfect, the visuals work, the original
premise works, the characters work....but the story moves from one
chess move to the next in a most predictable way...not one character in
the movie has any depth or has any depth explained by the director. All
we know about Catherine Zeta-Jones character is she is obsessed with
her world....nobody is allowed in and nobody challenges her
world...that much is obvious....but the remaining characters all have
their own dimensions that are really never explored or exposed....Aaron
Eckhart's character had so much more to offer to the story but wasn't
allowed, Abigail Breslin's character is so easy to understand that her
performance comes across somewhat predictable and phony....in the end
everything reverts back to the forced turbulent world of Catherine
Zeta-Jones which the audience never totally falls for....honestly, her
turbulent world is not much more than a portrayal of a selfish, self
obsessed, spoiled lady who most people would not have much time or
sympathy for in the real world. The director needed to make her a hero
and never does....in the end, it is Eckhart's character that ultimately
wins because he wins.
Not a lousy movie, just a movie that could have been a lot better with more depth of personalities allowed in, explained and exposed.
Well, i must admit, when i saw the trailer for this movie, i was
looking forward to it. I am generally a fan of light hearted romantic
comedies and from the trailer, thats the impression i got of this
movie. However, i spent most of the movie waiting for the comedy to
begin. Although there were a couple of amusing scenes, in general the
outlook of the movie was quite depressing.
I also found it difficult to fall in love with any of the characters as they all seemed a little underdeveloped, the time which the director could have used exploring the characters taken up by a needless overuse of Opera, making the movie feel dragged out and slow.
All in all, although there are some touching scenes, the trailer is quite deceptive and i would only suggest you go watch this if there is really nothing else that tickles your fancy.
Not fantastic, and as i have said before; Bland.
Despite what I recall of the advertising campaign last year, this
soft-hearted 2007 film is far less a Food Network-derived romantic
comedy than a Lifetime-oriented drama about grief and work/life
balance. Directed by Scott Hicks ("Shine") and written by first-timer
Carol Fuchs, this film offers the most insightful peek into the
workings of an upscale Manhattan restaurant since 2000's "Dinner Rush"
(i.e., if you don't count last year's CGI-generated, French food-fest,
"Ratatouille"), but it also seems intent in splintering the story
between the romantic sparks between the co-stars and the unexpected
relationship that a single aunt forms with her orphaned niece. The
result is heartwarming but rather diluted considering the potential
inherent in the material presented. Hicks and Fuchs also seem intent on
inserting predictable clichés along the way to reinforce the formulaic
approach taken with the story.
Basically a remake of the 2001 German comedy, "Mostly Martha", the plot centers on perfectionist chef Kate who runs a tightly efficient kitchen in a chic SoHo bistro. As a resolute overachiever, she is able to get up before dawn to get to the fish market and stay late at the restaurant making her impeccably presented dishes until closing. So tightly wound is Kate that restaurant owner Paula forces her to see a therapist to address her supposedly difficult personality. This is the first of several disconnects I had with the film as Kate strikes me as demanding but not particularly abusive to her staff. Regardless, her life is turned upside down by the sudden death of her sister and the addition of her niece Zoe to her structured life. As if that wasn't enough, Paula has hired Nick, a rowdy opera-loving sous-chef, to partner with Kate as she struggles with her personal transition at home. Taking a number from the Tracy-Hepburn manual for romantic comedy, tempers flare as do sparks. Zoe's recovery from her mother's death becomes a complicating factor, but the rest of the story plays out basically how you would presume.
More interesting in edgier, less sympathetic roles, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the icier aspects of her role well, but she is markedly less arresting when her character turns warm and gooey. The script also doesn't really respect her character much since 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 as well, and minimalist composer Philip Glass, of all people, provided the unobtrusive soundtrack dominated by Puccini, Verdi, and Flotow arias. The most significant bonus item on the 2008 DVD is a twenty-minute episode of the Food Network's "Unwrapped" which includes interviews with the film's stars and the real chefs who concocted the dishes in the movie.
Very likable even for a formula romcom, mainly because of the terrific
casting and performances of the actors.
The forever beautiful and talented Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Mask of Zorro) is spot on as Kate, a workaholic chef at hoity toity 22 Bleeker. Kate unexpectedly inherits her niece Zoe, played tremendously well by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). Real-life motherhood must have enabled Zeta-Jones to show her softer side with the restraint her character called for.
Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking, Black Dahlia) is Nick, the Italian-trained, opera-singing, charismatic new chef who invades Kate's precision-perfect French kitchen. Nick is Kate's quintessential opposite and eventually helps her sort out her trust issues and even enhances her parenting skills.
It is refreshing to see CZJ back on the silver screen where she belongs, and playing a non-glamorous character for once, even sans makeup in some scenes. At 38 years old, that is a brave feat indeed (and this courage is consistent with all the flawed characters she likes to play).
Her on screen chemistry with Eckhart is positively sizzling, and his cockiness to her coolness effectively makes you forget about the trite plot. While Zeta-Jones has also been criticized for being too beautiful for the role of a lonely chef, that is actually one of the ironies of life that this movie uncovers: beauty and talent doesn't really guarantee bliss.
Despite the awful MTV-like montage of the trio grocery shopping and the rest of the unspectacular elements, overall, the movie makes you feel for the characters. You leave the cinema all warm and fuzzy, and that makes the execution of No Reservations a success.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I hesitated seeing this movie, having really enjoyed the original, 'Mostly Martha'. What a disappointment. Catherine Zeta Jones is a good actress but this wasn't her film. The original had poignant moments, perfectly punctuated with an incredible soundtrack. No reservations felt like it never connected. The food, the characters - nothing felt passionate. In Mostly Martha, the food came alive- every scene was filmed in such a way you could taste it with your eyes - the smells, the textures. The food in 'No Reservations' was in the background - rarely did we get a closeup of the preparation; the characters were not real enough to carry the movie without it. It was hard finishing the movie - many of the scenes felt awkward. See the original - it's a truly enjoyable movie; the soundtrack incredible.
In Manhattan, the workaholic Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the chef of
the 22 Bleecker Restaurant owned by Paula (Patricia Clarkson), who sent
her to a therapist (Bob Balaban) because she has no other interest in
life but cooking and controlling her kitchen. When her only sister dies
in a car accident, Kate becomes the guardian of her niece Zoe (Abigail
Breslin), who can not overcome the loss of her mother. Paula orders
Kate to take a couple of days off to care of Zoe; when Kate returns to
the work, she finds that Paula hired the sub-chef Nick (Aaron Eckhart)
without her approval. Nick explains that he is honored of working with
Kate, but the jealous Kate does not trust in him and believes he wants
her position. When Zoe gets close to Nick and invites him to have
dinner with Kate and her, she changes her feelings for Nick. But when
his work is recognized by the clients of the restaurant, Kate believes
she committed a mistake.
"No Reservations" is delightfully sweet, with a nice romance supported by the magnificent chemistry of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart; a good story; a wonderful soundtrack; and the visual of splendorous dishes. The beauty of Catherine Zeta-Jones is awesome, and I really loved her character and this entertaining feel-good movie. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Sem Reservas" ("Without Reservations")
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