Earlier this evening I took a carload of young ladies to see NO RESERVATIONS, the new romantic comedy starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. As one of the girls sighed at the end, "That was a good one!"
NO RESERVATIONS is simultaneously a romantic comedy, a movie for foodies, and a more serious film about loss and the creation of a new family. Although the film's plot trods on well-worn ground, as a single career woman unexpectedly finds herself a mother, the story was presented with fresh twists and honest but not manipulative emotions, against the fascinating backdrop of the kitchen of a high-end restaurant.
Catherine Zeta-Jones walks a tightrope with her character, Kate, who in other hands could be off-putting. Zeta-Jones makes Kate sympathetic and appealing as she gradually matures and learns to let other people into her life. Aaron Eckhart, who several years ago played Julia Roberts' boyfriend in ERIN BROCKOVICH, is delightful as the sous chef who shakes up Kate's kitchen and helps teach her a thing or two about children as well. Abigail Breslin plays Kate's niece, Zoe, believably, with a performance that is heartfelt but not overly histrionic. Patricia Clarkson plays the edgy restaurant owner who has something of a love-hate relationship with Kate, and has the perception to send Kate to see a therapist. The therapy scenes provide some of the most amusing moments in the film.
The movie runs 103 minutes and was directed by Scott Hicks. It's a loose remake of a German film, MOSTLY MARTHA, which is currently in my Netflix queue. Much of the film was shot on location in New York, which provides an atmospheric backdrop.
When the movie comes out on DVD, this film would make a good double-bill paired with either TORTILLA SOUP, which is another great "foodie" movie based on a foreign film, or with YOU'VE GOT MAIL, another film about a small business in New York, which also explores some issues related to loss and life changes.
Parents' advisory: As indicated in the 3-star review in USA Today, the film is mostly family-friendly. There is a sensual romantic scene and the implication someone has spent the night, but by modern film standards the romance was handled with restraint. The language was relatively mild. The biggest issue for younger viewers would most likely be watching a child dealing with the loss of her only parent. For more parental guidance, see the positive review at Crosswalk.
My two previous posts on this film can be read here and here.
The trailer can be seen here. The film's official website is here.
NO RESERVATIONS provided a very enjoyable evening. Recommended.