One of my passions is to a) Bake; b) Cook. That is why the Food Network is on my small list of favorite channels. I love watching chefs whip up tantalizing entrees and exquisite desserts, and then trying a few of those recipes to make them my own. So I was delighted when the film No Reservations was released. What could be better? A romantic comedy where gourmet food is practically a character.
Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has suddenly become responsible for her young niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin) after their sister/mother dies. While she is attempting to adjust to her new role with Zoe, Nick (Aaron Eckhart) is hired as a chef in the restaurant where Kate has long been the head chef ruling the kitchen with discipline and structure. Initially Nick seems to be her opposite, but what they share in common is their love of food. Zoe quickly warms up to the effervescent Nick, and Kate starts to fall for him too.
Zoe struggling with having lost her mother makes this film more of a drama than what I expected. Abigail Breslin’s performance makes our hearts ache for Zoe as she slowly comes to terms with the turn of events that has changed her life. You may remember Abigail from her role in Little Miss Sunshine for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She is growing into a fine young actor the likes of which we haven’t seen since Anna Paquin.
As in all romantic comedies (as in life itself), the path to love is never a straight line, and we are kept guessing about Kate and Nick until the end. Aaron Eckhart is appealing and it’s not difficult to see why Kate is attracted to the opera singing, Italian chef. The food does play front and center in many scenes. It’s nourishment, not just for our physical bodies, but also for our souls. The communal table where the waiters and chefs eat and practice their litanies of the ingredients of each new dish of the day, the makeshift tent where Zoe, Nick and Kate eat homemade pizza, the crowded café where friends meet for breakfast, provide more than just food, they bring a sense of belonging to a world where people can grow increasingly isolated and distant if they’re not careful.
Anyone who likes a film that goes deep into the characters and what they’re experiencing will like this one. And if you prefer a sit down restaurant where the food is cooked after you order it instead of before you arrive at the drive through, you will like this film. See it with No Reservations.