No Reservations

No Reservations

2007, PG, 105 min. Directed by Scott Hicks. Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban, Lily Rabe.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 27, 2007

Aussie director Hicks helmed the 1996 Oscar-winning meltdown-melodrama Shine and hasn't yet recaptured the dotty brilliance of that film (Geoffrey Rush had much to do with it). No Reservations, a nearly note-perfect remake of Sandra Nettelbeck's 2001 German import, doesn't erase the memory of Hicks' odd turn directing the William Goldman-adapted Stephen King misfire Hearts in Atlantis, nor does it come within striking distance, emotionally, of Nettlebeck's original, but that may have more to do with the culturally fraught experience of watching a tautly Teutonic, perfectionist German foodie defrost than any directorial malaise on Hicks' part. Hollywood is and forever has been rife with films about obsessive Americans unraveling for the better in the face of love and death; it's almost always more interesting, if not educational, to view the subject from across the pond, at a safe remove. In Mostly Martha, it turned out those frosty Germans were all gooey on the inside. With No Reservations, it turns out that so is Zeta-Jones, who here plays Kate, the chef at a tony Manhattan restaurant owned by Six Feet Under alumna Clarkson. She's more brio than Brie, this implacable, tempestuous go-getter, so much so that she's been ordered to see a psychiatrist (Balaban) by her boss. As in the original, fate conspires to free this chef from her self-imposed kitchen exile by placing her sister's suddenly orphaned child (Breslin) into her discomfort zone and then, as if that weren't enough to teach one the joys of letting one's angel-hair pasta down, inserting gustatory hunk Eckhart into her beloved kitchen. Eckhart, as incoming kinda-sorta-sous chef Nick, grins way too much for my taste, frankly (the bad aftertaste of In the Company of Men still gnaws at me, though this Nick is neither rat nor Rémy), but he does begin to work in tandem with Kate's niece to free up her range, as well as teach her the real meaning of food-love. No Reservations succeeds as well as it does (kinda sorta) by virtue of Zeta-Jones' performance; she thaws deliciously, despite Eckhart's toothiness, and while No Reservations is no Big Night (or Mostly Martha for that matter), it's also surprisingly winsome in parts, a romantic fable that lingers on the palette of the mind's eye, not despite its familiarity but because of it.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Scott Hicks Films
The Lucky One
This latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks bestseller is timelessly shopworn.

Marc Savlov, April 20, 2012

The Boys Are Back
Clive Owen is a widower in Australia who learns to become a hands-on dad to his sons.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 2, 2009

More by Marc Savlov
Stuber
Buddy cop action-comedy isn’t making many friends

July 12, 2019

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
A rare journey behind the words of America's poet laureate

July 5, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

No Reservations, Scott Hicks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban, Lily Rabe

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle