When you watch a rom-com from the 2000s, you know exactly what you’re getting: someone’s life being upended, upbeat rock music, and two people who are going to fall in love. In case of No Reservations, it’s a chef who finds herself in sudden custody of her now-orphaned niece, all while dealing with a new, sassy sous-chef in her kitchen.
What makes these movies fun to watch and re-watch, even 20 years later, is that they rely on an elegant simplicity modern movies often lack. Perhaps that’s why little Zoe carries the movie. “Is she dead?” “Go away!” “I’m afraid I will forget her.” Children don’t “put a paper in front of their mouth,” as we say in Germany, and in movies like No Reservations, the adults usually don’t either.
In a world where entertainment has become synonymous with five-season sagas and crossover movie lineups that span half a decade, it is refreshing to watch people go after exactly what they want for 90 minutes without hedging their bets.
We, too, possess the power of simplicity. Unfortunately, we are trained out of it as we grow up. “You can’t say that.” “That’s not how it works.” “You can’t just ask for a promotion.” The truth is you can challenge all of these assumptions on any day of the week, but if you’re too scared to lean back into “simple is powerful” — a default you, just like Zoe, once held close to your heart — you might forget that you can do so altogether.
It takes more than a cute cooking romance to consistently stand up for yourself, but every now and then, a little bit of “sweet and simple” can be part of just the right recipe along the way.