7.3/10
7,322
83 user 56 critic

Mostly Martha (2001)

Bella Martha (original title)
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.

Director:

Sandra Nettelbeck

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
14 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Martina Gedeck ... Martha Klein
Maxime Foerste Maxime Foerste ... Lina Klein (Martha's niece)
Sergio Castellitto ... Mario
August Zirner ... Martha's Therapist
Sibylle Canonica ... Frida
Katja Studt ... Lea
Antonio Wannek ... Carlos
Idil Üner Idil Üner ... Bernadette
Oliver Broumis ... Jan
Ulrich Thomsen ... Sam Thalberg
Gerhard Garbers Gerhard Garbers ... Herr Steinberg
Angela Schmidt Angela Schmidt ... Frau Steinberg
Diego Ribon Diego Ribon ... Giuseppe Lorenzo
W.D. Sprenger W.D. Sprenger ... Noisy customer
Victoria Trauttmansdorff 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 inquiries 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

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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany | Italy | Austria | Switzerland

Language:

German | Italian

Release Date:

27 September 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mostly Martha See more »

Filming Locations:

Hamburg, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,446, 18 August 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,160,475

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,852,022
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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

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.
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Connections

Remade as No Reservations (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Volare
1989 EMI Records
Written by Franco Migliacci / Domenico Modugno, English lyrics by Mitchell Parish
Performed by Dean Martin
© Published by Gerig Musikverlage
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User Reviews

Assured, intelligent, charming
21 January 2003 | by SpleenSee all my reviews

A strange thing about the food: some of it, like the bird-cooked-in-pig's-bladder which Martha describes in loving detail in order to have something to talk about while she's with her therapist, sounds good, and perhaps even looks good, without being in the least bit appetising. You'd have to be mad to actually eat anything that's been cooked in a pig's bladder. But Martha is probably right aesthetically, if not in any other way: if she says the best way to cook the bird is in a pig's bladder, then you'd better believe it.

Martha is a superb creation. She's a good chef. (She may be the best chef of any film ever made.) When her boss sends her to a therapist, she talks about food and cooking, which interest her, rather than about herself, which doesn't interest her. She goes to therapy because her boss orders her to, and when her therapist (who's no fool either) asks her why she thinks her boss orders her to, she says, as though considering the question for the first time, that she doesn't know – and she clearly doesn't care, either.

When various people (her orphaned niece, an Italian cook) come along to disrupt her life, we're on her side in wanting her to retain control; and although these likable people DO successfully disrupt her life, she does successfully retain control; so everyone wins. And it's hard not to admire someone who can not only insult the philistines who eat at the restaurant where she works but who know how to do so properly. These people don't know how good they have it. I'd rather be insulted by her than flattered by some spineless flunky.

The script, word for word, and moment for moment, is as perfectly judged as one of Martha's dishes. The IMDb user who says of Lina: "She didn't cry when her mother died, but she was really upset when Martha forgot to pick her up. It wasn't her fault, it was the script's" merely shows how much his sensibilities have been coarsened by Hollywood cliché. In fact, the film shows genuine insight into the way people naturally react, not the way lazy screenwriters would like to train them to react. Lina reacts to her mother's death not with the usual screen histrionics but by not eating. Tears are reserved (as they are in life) for less important misfortunes.

This is an assured, intelligent, charming film. Even the use of music shows an unerring touch. I'm eager to see what Sandra Nettelbeck does next.


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