This Friday Natasha Oakley is here to talk about a movie that was released worldwide this summer called No Reservations.
So often when people try and find a movie that could be a Harlequin 'Romance' I disagree. It's a difficult line to pin down. Partly, I suspect, because people get confused by the line's requirement to 'shut the bedroom door'. So often that's translated as 'no sex' which isn't true and means that we get likened to excrutiating teeny-bopper films. Horrid! But, No Reservations is a movie I could so easily turn into a Harlequin 'Romance' - which probably means I'm going to be a bit hard on it.
It's a remake of a successful 2001 German film called 'Mostly Martha'. By all accounts it was hugely popular and I've just added it to my rental list because I'm curious to compare the two. The reviews for No Reservations are patchy. What seems to be missing from the original is charm.
Kate Armstrong (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a brilliantly creative chef. She's also controlling, meticulous and obsessively interested in creating perfect food in the Manhattan Restaurant where she's carving out an impressive reputation.
Everything changes when she becomes the legal guardian of her niece, Zoe (played superbly by Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin). Mothers everywhere will enjoy the bit where Zoe turns up her nose at Kate's wonderful food.
It's a steep learning curve. Forced to take time off work Kate returns to find her boss has hired a charismatic sous chef (played by Aaron Eckhart) and that the cool discipline of her kitchen has been transformed by the opera loving Nick.
Kate's life is also complicated by childcare issues - and her solution, for a time, is to take Zoe to the restaurant with her. It's Nick who gets the traumatised little girl to eat, Nick who makes her laugh ... (If you like to look out for continuity errors there's a big one here. The bowl of spaghetti Nick gets Zoe to eat alternates between full and almost empty!!!) Anyway, you get the idea??
And it's Zoe who plays matchmaker. When Kate forgets to pick her up from school she agrees to let her aunt make it up to her by giving her a wish. And her wish is that Kate should ask Nick to come round and make pizza.
I think this movie gets much better when Nick and Kate are allowed to sizzle. If it were my book I'd be wanting to cut down on the opera which I feel is a bit heavy handed, add in some humour and I'd really want to write something about why Nick, who is a hugely talented chef, isn't Head Chef of his own restaurant. We get to discover so much more about why Kate has become so controlling.
Despite Kate's competitiveness and their very different personalities their relationship is going great ....
Nick: Zoe, I am now going to kiss your aunt.
Zoe: [covers her eyes] This is so embarrassing.
... but then Kate's boss offers Nick the Head Chef job.
All told I don't think this a great movie. I say that because I want to rewrite whole chunks of it!!! :)
BUT it's a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half so I give it a Pink Heart Fuzzy Rating of 6 out of 10.
If you want to see the trailer or whip up Quail with White Truffle Sauce, Ravioli and Wild Mushrooms, one Kate's recipes, click here.
This July saw the start of a brand-new series in the Presents line - The Royal House of Niroli.
"The Mediterranean island of Niroli has prospered for centuries under the Fierezza men. But now, as the King’s health declines, and his 2 sons have been tragically killed, the crown is in jeopardy. Who will rule? "
Natasha's book, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride', is in the shops NOW and is a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick. Click here for the full review.