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Extra senses at the movies

Posted at 6:47 PM on July 25, 2007 by Euan Kerr

A couple of strange things happened last night when I went to see "No Reservations," the new Catherine Zeta-Jones Aaron Eckhart romantic drama opening this weekend.

It's a story about Kate (Zeta-Jones), a perfectionist chef who runs the best kitchen in the city, but is so tightly wound her boss sends her to therapy. She is upset when her boss (Patricia Clarkson) hires Nick as the kitchen's new sous-chef. He's an opera-singing cut-up who Kate thinks threatens her control Things get worse when her sister dies in a car crash, and she suddenly becomes guardian to her niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin of "Little Miss Sunshine" fame.)

It's a charming little confection, despite the fact we know pretty much exactly how things will work out from the moment Nick turns up, (unless we've seen the trailer, which means we knew before we walked in the theater.) But that's just what happens with romantic dramas/comedies.

So, this was what was strange: first of all Catherine Zeta-Jones bears a remarkable resemblance to an old and dear friend of mine, so I kept finding my mind wandering off to my teenage years in Scotland.

Then, as Kate began cooking at one point in the film, the theater seemed filled with a wonderful herbal aroma. It was startling. Was it tarragon? It fades away and I realized probably someone was just eating a throat lozenge.

Yet for some reason the aromas just kept coming. Some humanly identifiable, others more pleasant and intriguing.

Then came the final strangeness. As Kate struggles with her problems she asks her therapist (Bob Balaban) why there are no recipe books to show her how to deal with life.

He says as a chef she should know why: "The recipes you create yourself are the best."

Which is just so deeply ironic because "No Reservations" is a remake of the 2001 German film "Mostly Martha."

Is "No Reservations" director Scott Hicks being deeply ironic? Or clueless? The questions caused me sensory overload.

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