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Mostly Martha (2001)
"Bella Martha" (original title)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance, Drama  |  27 September 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 6,577 users   Metascore: 72/100
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When a headstrong chef takes charge of her equally stubborn 8-year-old niece, the tensions between them mount... until an Italian sous-chef arrives to lighten the mood.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maxime Foerste ...
August Zirner ...
Sibylle Canonica ...
Katja Studt ...
Idil Üner ...
Sam Thalberg
Gerhard Garbers ...
Herr Steinberg
Angela Schmidt ...
Frau Steinberg
Diego Ribon ...
Giuseppe Lorenzo
W.D. Sprenger ...
Noisy customer
Victoria Trauttmansdorff ...
Companion (as Victoria von Trautmannsdorf)


In a German restaurant, Chef Martha Klein is the undisputed supreme ruler of the kitchen staff and woe to any customer who would dare criticize her cooking. Her life is firmly centered around cooking which takes on a obsessive level with stubborn single mindedness. Even when she is ordered to take therapy, she still constantly talks about her work and the iron clad control she relishes in her task. All that changes when her sister dies in a car accident, leaving her 8 year old daughter, Lina. Martha takes her niece in and while making enquiries for her estranged father, she struggles to care for this stubbornly headstrong child. Meanwhile at work, a new chef named Mario is hired on and Martha feels threatened by this unorthodox intruder. The pressures of both her private and work life combine to create a situation that will fundamentally call her attitudes and life choices into question while these interlopers into her life begin to profoundly change it. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In Martha's enchanted kitchen, more than the food is starting to simmer. With some special ingredients they just might discover a recipe for passion. See more »


Comedy | Romance | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

27 September 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mostly Martha  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$40,446 (USA) (16 August 2002)


$4,158,045 (USA) (17 January 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sergio Castellitto's German wasn't good enough so Frank Glaubrecht was brought in to dub his voice for the German version. See more »


When Mario and Lina get ready to cook dinner at Martha's apartment, Lina puts on her apron twice. See more »


Mario: [to Frida, about chef Martha] It's your restaurant, but her kitchen. Without her, it's just a pile of metal. It's for her to decide.
See more »


Featured in Cinema Goes to Dinner (2005) See more »


Via Con Me
1986 RCA/Ariola S.p.A.
Written and Performed by Paolo Conte
© Published by BMG Ricordi S.p.A. / Arabella Musikverlag
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User Reviews

Wiener Schnitzel Italian style...
14 October 2002 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This German film is one of the happiest surprises of the year. Not only is it a well paced, acted, and directed, but it involves the viewer like no other film in recent memory. Director/writer Sandra Nettelbeck deserves praise for bringing this joyous piece to the screen.

Martina Gedleck, as Martha, is perfect as the control freak of the upscale restaurant. Obviously, she can cook, judging by the full houses and the good vibes she generates among the diners. What she has in smarts, she lacks in social graces. Obviously, she doesn't have a life.

Her world is shattered by the arrival of a niece that comes to her under tragic circumstances, and from Mario, the new Italian cook. One can see the new man in her kitchen is too much of a free spirit, who ultimately will be her downfall.

Mario, very nicely played by Sergio Castelletto, is the opposite of his German colleague. It doesn't take long for him to charm the daylights out of Martha. Sparks fly whenever they are on screen together. Both principals have the right chemistry and that's why this film works so well. It will surely disarm anyone in the right state of mind. The only thing is that one must leave the theatre craving for a great meal.

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