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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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NO RESERVATIONS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the popular and successful chef at Paula's (Patricia Clarkson) small but busy New York restaurant, entirely dedicated to her job, with no time or headspace (or heartspace) for anyone else. Her single mum sister Leah (Jenny Wade) is about to drive to New York to visit Kate with Leah's 8-year old niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin); but when a tragic accident leaves Zoe without a mother, Kate honours her promise to take care of Zoe. And just as Zoe comes into her life, so does Nick (Aaron Eckhart), a flamboyant sous-chef hired by Paula, by whom she feels threatened. She doesn't cope well with either intrusion.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Inevitably losing something in the translation from the wonderfully entertaining yet sincere original German film, Mostly Martha (2002), by writer/director Sandra Nettelbeck, No Reservations lacks the edginess and the depth that made Mostly Martha a standout. Where Martha was a genuine square and the incoming chef a genuine bohemian Italian, No Reservations gives us a Kate who is only playing at it all and a Nick whose Italian nature (such as it is) is signified by lots of opera during cooking. The sharpness and the charm should come from the big scale strength of the opposites - a proud and fussy German spinster in conflict with a warm, big hearted and crumpled Italian. Nor are the kitchen scenes so compelling.

Even for those who haven't seen Mostly Martha it is evident that Zeta-Jones and Eckhart just don't have the chemistry, no matter how hard Australian director Scott Hicks tries to fire up the Bunsen burner. For all their respective talents, Zeta-Jones and Eckhart can't match the emotional tension that Martina Gedeck and Sergio Castellito created with Nettelbeck.

But the fault lies equally with this remake screenplay, losing its balance between the two facets of the relationship story. The Zoe/Kate and Nick/Kate relationships should work as polar opposites of the emotional forces that drive the screenplay, but here, the Zoe/Kate story overwhelms the very slow burning romantic undertow of Kate & Nick. And while on the subject of Zoe, Abigail Breslin - of Little Miss Sunshine fame - is the best thing in the film.

There's a featurette on the DVD. All in all, though, I can't help feeing that some unseen force or forces were hampering the outcome of No Reservations, whose title tries to be ironic but has no foundation in the story.

Published January 3, 2008



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

NO RESERVATIONS: DVD (PG)
(US/Aust, 2007)

CAST: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Bob Balaban, Jenny Wade, Brian F. O'Byrne, Patricia Clarkson

PRODUCER: Sergio Aquero, Kerry Heysen

DIRECTOR: Scott Hicks

SCRIPT: Carol Fuchs ( screenplay Mostly Martha Sandra Nettelbeck)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stuart Dryburgh

EDITOR: Pip Karmel

MUSIC: Philip Glass

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Barbara Ling

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 23, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette 'Unwrapped'

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: January 2, 2008







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