Movie Review: No Reservations
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: July 27, 2007
Directed by: Scott Hicks
Genre: Comedy, Drama, and Romance
Stars: 3 out of 5
"No Reservations" is the story of a single woman trying to navigate the tricky issues of parenthood and professionalism in the modern world. Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin, the movie follows a woman as she crafts her own identity in the face of cultural norms and traditions.
The story opens on a successful chef named Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who has a high-profile job at a high-end restaurant. When her sister dies tragically in a car accident, Kate is left in charge of her young niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin).
Despite her education and life experience, Kate is completely unprepared to take care of a preteen; throughout her life, she has made no secret about the fact that her career is more important to her than getting married or having a family. When she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the role of a mother, Kate is lost. Overwhelmed by the responsibility and dealing with her grief over her sister's death, Kate returns to work before she has the chance to process her sadness. It's only when her boss insists on time off that she faces the inevitable breakdown.
When Kate returns to work, she finds that her spot has been filled by a younger and less qualified chef, Nick (Aaron Eckhart). Nick is Kate's opposite in almost every way. He is relaxed where Kate is uptight and freewheeling where she is organized. Worst of all, he relates to Zoe effortlessly, while Kate has trouble connecting with her niece. Throughout the movie, Kate learns to adapt some of Nick's more relaxed attitudes and figures out how to balance her responsibilities as an adult with her professional aspirations.
On the surface, "No Reservations" appears to be a sweet, funny romantic comedy. It is inevitable from the beginning that Kate and Nick will end up together and that Kate will find her way as a parental figure. The movie is formulaic in its plot, but the formula doesn't take away from the heart of the story. Instead of sticking to a traditional, lighthearted romance stereotype, director Scott Hicks chose to explore deeper issues that plague single women in modern American society. Many romantic comedies portray women as unhappy and unfulfilled until they ultimately fall into the roles they supposedly should want: namely, motherhood and marriage.
In "No Reservations," Kate bucks traditional gender roles. She has no interest in being a mother to children of her own, and she is unwilling to give up her successful career to make it easier to connect with Zoe. Instead, she insists on keeping the job she worked hard for, partly to be a strong female role model and partly to justify her years of effort. The movie gives an accurate portrayal of the struggle that modern women face when they try to balance work and family. To his credit, Hicks does not take the easy route and give the story a simple resolution; he allows Kate to struggle and lets her find her own unique path to happiness.
As Kate, Catherine Zeta-Jones displays her remarkable acting skills. She offers a subtle and nuanced performance, proving that she is more than a beautiful face. Viewers can see her inner turmoil as she struggles with her responsibilities as a guardian and her desire to be great at her job. Aaron Eckhart, with his relaxed energy and all-American good looks, is the perfect foil for Zeta-Jones' high-strung character. Together, they have a chemistry that is strong and full of sparks, making for an entertaining viewing experience.
As Zoe, Abigail Breslin once again appears to have wisdom beyond her years. She acts with a surprising emotional depth, particularly during the scenes that deal with her character's grief. Where many young actresses would resort to simple tears, Breslin imbues her character with emotion, which is apparent in everything from her facial expressions to the smallest of physical movements. As a result, her grief is moving and, in many cases, elicits tears of sympathy from viewers. Together, Zeta-Jones, Eckhart, and Breslin are a delightful trio.
Overall, "No Reservations" is a romantic comedy with a genuine heart. The movie treats difficult situations with a realistic perspective, making viewers feel respected by the filmmakers and writers. Catherine Zeta-Jones gives a performance that will resonate with female viewers around the world, and Abigail Breslin is a draw for younger audience members. With its heartwarming story and dramatic emotional highs and lows, the movie offers an entertaining viewing experience that is sure to delight fans of the cast and lovers of romantic comedies.