No Reservations is a 2007 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Scott Hicks. Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, the screenplay by Carol Fuchs is an adaptation of an original script by Sandra Nettelbeck, which served as the basis for the 2001 German film Mostly Martha, and revolves around a hard-edged chef whose life is turned upside down when she decides to take in her young niece following a tragic accident that killed her sister. Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban and Jenny Wade co-star, with BrÃan F. O'Byrne, Lily Rabe, and Zoe Kravitzâ"appearing in her first feature filmâ"playing supporting roles.
The film received a mixed reception by critics, who found it âpredictable and too melancholy for the genreâ, resulting into an 41% overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Upon its opening release on July 27, 2007 in the United States and Canada, No Reservations became a moderate commercial success: The film grossed $12 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $43 million at the domestic box-office and over $92 million worldwide. Breslin was nominated for a Young Artist Award for her performance.
Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the head chef at the trendy 22 Bleecker Street Restaurant in Manhattan, New York. She runs her kitchen at a rapid pace as she coordinates the making and preparation of all the fantastic meals, and personally displays the food to perfection on every dish. She intimidates everyone around her, including her boss Paula (Patricia Clarkson), who sends her to therapy. Kate hates to leave the kitchen when a customer wants to compliment her on one of her special dishes; however, she is ready to leave the kitchen in an instant when a customer insults her cooking.
When Kate's sister is killed in a car accident, her nine-year-old niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin), must move in with her. Kate is devastated by her sister's death and with all of her problems, Paula decides to hire a new sous chef to join the staff, Nick Palmer (Aaron Eckhart), who is a rising star in his own right and could be the head chef of any restaurant he pleased. Nick, however, wants to work under Kate. The atmosphere in the kitchen is somewhat chaotic as Kate feels increasingly threatened by Nick as time went on due to his style of running her kitchen. Nick loves to listen to opera while he cooks and he loves to make the staff laugh. And Kate finds herself strangely attracted to Nick, whose uplifting personality has not only affected her staff but Zoe as well, who has been coming to work with Kate.
With all that is happening in Kate's life, the last thing she would want is to fall in love with this man, as she has pushed away all others prior. Nevertheless, there is some kind of chemistry between the two of them that only flourishes with their passion for cooking. Yet life hits her hard when Paula decides to offer Nick the job of head chef and Kate's relationship with Nick turns a sour note due to Kate's pride.
In the end, Kate allows herself to become vulnerable and tear down the walls she has built throughout her life so that she and Nick could start fresh. The movie concludes with Zoe, Nick, and Kate having opened their own bistro.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Kate Armstrong
- Aaron Eckhart as Nicholas "Nick" Palmer
- Abigail Breslin as Zoe
- Patricia Clarkson as Paula
- Jenny Wade as Leah Scott
- Bob Balaban as Therapist
- BrÃan F. O'Byrne as Sean Paul
- Lily Rabe as Bernadette Ezkeniazki
- Arija Bareikis as Kate's sister (Christine)
- John McMartin as Mr. Peterson
- Celia Weston as Mrs. Peterson
- ZoÃ« Kravitz as Charlotte do Buchanan Straniazki
- Dearbhla Molloy as Anna Petersova Rasha
- Matt Servitto as Doctor Foop
- Fulvio Cecere as Bob Dylan
The film soundtrack makes extensive use of operatic music, and includes (uncredited) Liz Phair's song "Count On My Love".
- Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate of reviews from published critics, showed only 41% reviewed it favorably.
- Matt Zoller Seitz of The New York Times said, "What's unexpected and gratifying ... is the film's enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie's publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though itâs the story's driving force ... Make no mistake: No Reservations is a factory-sealed romantic comedy ... But the emotional details of Kate, Nick and Zoeâs journey are surprising, honest and life-size, and the filmâs determination to present their predicament sympathetically, without appealing to retrograde ideals of femininity and motherhood, makes it notable, and in some ways unique."
- Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated, "The movie is focused on two kinds of chemistry: of the kitchen, and of the heart. The kitchen works better, with shots of luscious-looking food, arranged like organic still lifes. But chemistry among Nick, Kate and Zoe is curiously lacking, except when we sense some fondnessâ"not really loveâ"between Zoe and her potential new dad ... the characters seem to feel more passion for food than for each other."
- Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times called the film "one of those movies that presents life precisely and meticulously as it isn't, presumably as some kind of consolation for how it really is" and added, "With its simplistic compartmentalization of dueling personality types, kindergarten view of grown-up love, exquisite styling, overripe camera moves and lousy, overwrought score, the movie feels stubbornly, resolutely disingenuous and one-dimensional. Everything in it is designed to make you feel better, so why does it feel artificial and palliative in that really depressing way?"
- Todd McCarthy of Variety observed, "Agreeably prepared and attractively presented, this remake of the tasty 2001 German feature Mostly Martha bears too many earmarks of Hollywood packaging and emotional button-pushing, but doesn't go far wrong by closely sticking to the original's smart story construction ... Scott Hicks' work cuts both ways, creating a warm cocoon that fosters engagement with the well-drawn characters while at the same time steering the material in softer-than-necessary directions and refraining from peeking any deeper into the main characters to suggest what makes them tick. Without question, Ratatouille deals more profoundly with the personality makeup and urges of a driven chef-as-artist than does this genial divertissement."
No Reservations was released in 2,425 theaters in the US on July 27, 2007 and earned $11,704,357 and ranked fifth on its opening weekend. The film eventually grossed $43,107,979 in the US and $49,493,071 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $92,601,050.
Awards and nominations
Abigail Breslin was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film by a Leading Young Actress for her performance as Zoe.
- List of American films of 2007
- No Reservations
- No Reservations at the Internet Movie Database
- No Reservations at AllMovie
- No Reservations at Rotten Tomatoes
- No Reservations at Metacritic
- No Reservations at Box Office Mojo
- No Reservations at Yahoo! Movies