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

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance, Drama  |  27 September 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,588 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 »


Lina Klein: I'm not going without my scarf!
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Tokyo, Encore
Written and Performed by Keith Jarrett
ECM Records
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User Reviews

If you ever needed a reason to learn German
25 October 2005 | by (Houston, TX) – See all my reviews

You have it now. Buy, don't rent this film. It's a keeper. Most notable and with great kudos to the director, the films stays true to itself almost all the way through. Far enough to beat out most other films. There are a few quibbles toward the end of the film, but not enough to shake off the aura it imparts just giving yourself over to its story.

The camera moves efficiently and cleanly throughout the film, and the actors respond with clean understated action and dialog.

The story is spare, and I found what I think is a clue to the writer's intention, as the protagonist describes the menu purpose of "Fish in Butter and Basil sauce." Listen for it and see if you don't agree, she is speaking to us about her story/film.

To own this is, like Nurse Betty, to own something you just have to pull out and watch a couple of times a year. just because they're so darn good.

No wonder the folks in H'wood are busy at making an American version for 2007.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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