Sunday, November 25, 2007

Movie Review: No Reservations

No Reservations is about a Manhatten chef, who is a bit of a perfectionist. She is at the top of her game, the head chef at a high end restaurant. Very creative and proud of it. But she is tough on people. She is currently going to a therapist on her boss's orders, because she has a tendency to get very mad at customers who complain about the preparation of her dishes. Her sister and niece are coming in to town, and she has plans for evening dinner.

And her life changes. She gets a call at the restaurant an hour before she was expecting to get off. It is a doctor. Her sister is dead, and neice wounded. She gets to break the news. And she now has a child to raise. Something she is not good at. And a person whose approval she cannot just cast away. The first problem. Her neice won't eat anything she cooks (because it is definitely not kid friendly). And she goes back to the restaurant, but has a breakdown and her boss forces her to take a break for a week to figure out this parent stuff. And then the worst comes. She find out her boss hired a chef to cover for her. And she is woefully insecure and threatened. As she says "this is my life." The ironic thing, the replacement chef worships the ground she walks on and considers this a chance to work and learn from her (and he has a thing about not wanting to have his own kitchen, which is the usual dream for a chef.)

Things that are interesting. The female lead learning to accept other people into her life. Not being threatened by criticism (her boss makes the comment that "if you were not one of the best chefs in the city, I would have fired you." and her only thought "is she (her boss) trying to insult me by saying I'm 'one of the best chefs'?") She learns about being flexible with a child in her life. And she begins to accept that this other chef is not a personal and professional threat. (oh, this is obviously meant to be a romantic comedy, so Catherine Zeta-Jones character develops a romantic relationship with the other chef, pushed on by the niece, but that is almost incidental.)

Overall, very well done. All the characters are very human. The female lead, the male lead, the therapist, the boss, the coworkers at the restaurant, even the kid and the school principal. The leads are believable as driven creative types, whose personal lives are subsumed by their professional lives with all its competitiveness and suspicion (when you can have only one head of a kitchen).

Oh, and the cooking, oh how fun. The back of house scenes are as hectic and pressured as you would believe, but the cooking at home scenes are a lot of fun.
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