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No Reservations is a 2007 Americanmarker romantic drama film directed by Scott Hicks. 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.


Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a master chef who lives her life like she runs the kitchen at the upscale Greenwich Villagemarker restaurant, 22 Bleecker: with an intensity that intimidates everyone around her. Her boss, Paula (Patricia Clarkson), believes that Kate is too serious and not able to express her emotional states. Because of this, she jokingly enlists Kate in therapy; otherwise, she will fire her if she chooses not to comply. More at ease behind the scenes, she unwillingly leaves the kitchen's sanctuary only to accept compliments from a regular diner or, on rare occasions, to tangle with a customer who questions her expertise. To rest her nervousness and sometimes anger, she takes host in the kitchen freezer. Most nights find her in bed before midnight, set to rise at dawn to beat her competition to the fish market for the next day's freshest selections.

When her sister is killed in a car accident, her niece, Zoe, (Abigail Breslin) unexpectedly comes to live with her. Mourning constantly about her sister's death during work, Kate is ordered by Paula to take a week off. When she returns, she realizes that Paula has subsituted a partner for her job, the brash, high-spirited sous-chef Nicholas Palmer (Aaron Eckhart). To calm Zoe's depression from her mother, Kate brings her along to the restaurant on certain nights. As time passes, Kate is unsure what bothers her more—that Nick's talent scores with 22 Bleecker's owner Paula and its discriminating clientèle, or that his easygoing charm quickly wins over the shy Zoe, who finds it easier to open up to him than to her aunt. Unfortunately, Zoe refuses to eat anything Kate puts on the table, and she is surprised when she sees her eating some of Nick's famous noodles from a recipe his grandmother taught him.

One afternoon, Kate forgets to pick up Zoe from school and to make it up to her, Kate invites Nick over for dinner on Zoe's request. During the dinner, when Zoe is sleeping, Kate and Nick express their feelings for each other and kiss. As weeks pass, the three spend much time together, and Kate and Nick's relationship goes on. When Nick challenges the boundary between rivalry and romance, Kate finds herself questioning her many professional and personal beliefs that she has always embraced while also faced with difficult choices regarding Zoe's future.

After discovering that her boss was going to replace her with Nick, Kate quarrels with him and he quits. Later, Kate learns that Nick had declined the head chef's job. Without Nick visiting, Zoe starts to miss her mother more and runs away. Kate calls Nick, and they search for Zoe, finding her at the cemetery by her mother's grave.

After seeing them home, Nick tells Kate that he accepted a job in San Francisco. They part, and Kate returns to work at the restaurant but quits after being unable to tolerate an unreasonable customer—merely complaining about an assumed non-rare steak. She goes to see Nick and tells him that she cannot bear for him to leave. They get together and open a new restaurant, with Zoe helping out.


Critical reception

Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate of reviews from published critics, showed only 35% 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 it’s the story's driving force ... Make no mistake: No Reservations is a factory-sealed romantic comedy ... But the emotional details of Kate, Nick and Zoe’s journey are surprising, honest and life-size, and the film’s 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 fondness - not really love - 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."

Box office

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.

See also


  2. New York Times review
  3. Chicago Sun-Times review
  4. Los Angeles Times review
  5. Variety review

External links

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