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

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 6,079 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 83 user | 58 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Maxime Foerste ...
...
Mario
August Zirner ...
Sibylle Canonica ...
Katja Studt ...
Lea
Antonio Wannek ...
Idil Üner ...
...
Jan
...
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)
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Storyline

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 <kchishol@rogers.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

chef | cooking | therapy | italian | kitchen | See more »

Taglines:

"Shiawase" wa, honno chotto no sajikagen [Japan] See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

18 April 2002 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Mostly Martha  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$4,158,045 (USA) (17 January 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

When Martha and Mario first kiss, he leans to the right with the left side of their noses touching. In the next shot he's leaning to the left. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Martha Klein: Then it must be the sugar.
Martha's Therapist: The sugar?
Martha Klein: Did you get the Belgian vergeoise like I told you?
Martha's Therapist: Are you telling me that you can taste what kind of sugar I've used?
Martha Klein: Of course not, but I can taste which kind you didn't use.
Martha's Therapist: [she smiles softly as he leaves] I give up. I'll be right back.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
A Perfectionist Becomes Unglued-Charmingly, Movingly
6 September 2002 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

Director Sandra Nettelbeck directed a wonderful cast in an outstanding film blending drama and comedy in a setting that left me moved - and hungry.

"Mostly Martha" (original name "Bella Martha") revolves around wound-up-tight-as-a-burrito master chef Martha (Martina Gedeck). Responsible for the success of Lido, her boss, Frida's (Sybille Canonica) urban German restaurant, Martha must nevertheless comply with her employer's demand that she weekly see a therapist (August Zirner). Martha seems clueless as to why therapy might help her but observing her in the kitchen and with restaurant guests suggests that her boss isn't too off-base sending her to a shrink. On the other hand, this therapist seems to at sea with her. He'd really find his place in New York.

Martha is Lido's proud and controlling head chef and she benevolently but firmly rules the kitchen. She's less charming with complaining customers engaging in forced and loud confrontations that I doubt even a hardened New Yorker could tolerate. Or an owner.

Coming for a visit, Martha's sister is fatally injured in a car crash leaving her eight-year old daughter, Lina (Maxine Foreste), lightly injured physically but deeply grief-stricken and withdrawn. Of course what follows is Martha's attempt to care for Lina and the clashes this unanticipated and initially painful relationship inevitably spawns.

Complicating matters, enter handsome chef Mario (Sergio Castellitto) who Frida hired without Martha's clearance. Professional jealousy? Fear of competition? Rude behavior? No spoilers in listing the inevitable.

Films with food as a central theme often allow the potential joy of gustatory pleasures to serve as a metaphor for the possibilities of satisfying and meaningful personal relations. Sappiness is a very possible roadblock too often encountered in this genre where the saccharine isn't just on the table. Not here. Everyone in the cast is marvelous. The characters are real. It's impossible not to care about them.

Especially winning is Maxine playing Lina. The nuances of her portrayal mirror without histrionics the path a bereaved little child must follow to reach acceptance and happiness. Martha, with no experience with children, goes through a believable transformation that made at least this viewer root silently for her. A woman who thinks a depressed and scared child wants haute cuisine for every meal as comfort food has a way to go. And Martha makes the trip.

Please see this film. It won't show up in many places but it's bound to be in rental outlets before long.

10/10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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