Mostly Martha

"Excellent"

Mostly Martha Review


If you're like me, a sucker for a good old fashion romance and someone who shamelessly loves to eat, then Mostly Martha offers all the perfect ingredients to more than satisfy your appetite. With a succulent array of gourmet meals constantly paraded across the screen, the film teases the taste buds with humor as tender as sautéed veal and romance as flavorful as aged wine, making for a hearty but appropriately low calorie love story.

First-time director Sandra Nettlebeck introduces Martha (Martina Gedeck) as an obsessive-compulsive chef at a chic restaurant in Hamburg, Germany, with no friends, no love interest, and no life other than an unparalleled knowledge of cuisine and the ability to cook any gourmet meal to perfection. As expected from an against-all-odds love story, Martha embodies the typically cinematic diamond-in-the-rough protagonist combining talent and beauty yet faced with a fatal flaw that plunges her into misery. Touted by her boss as "the second best chef in the city," she appears haughty and overly obsessed with "cooking by the book." In fact, in all her culinary glory she forgets that despite her impressive skills, the customer is always right. It becomes clear that Martha's manic tendencies must be overcome in order for her to gain personal fulfillment.

Stuck in a lonely rut, Martha suddenly finds that there's more to life than a tenderly basted filet mignon and grilled Portobello mushrooms when her sister, a single mother, is tragically killed in a car accident. Forced to adopt her eight year-old niece Lina (Maxime Foerste), Martha is unable to relate to the heartbroken child, and her gloominess is compounded by Lina's refusal to eat any of the extravagant meals Martha prepares. To make matters worse, her boss has hired another chef in the restaurant whom Martha despises. Chef Mario (Sergio Castellitto) is tardy, flirts with the waitresses, wears a swarthy beard, sings and dances to standards on his rusted out radio while he cooks, and his "So intense, so Italian" attitude embodies everything that Martha is not. Can you just smell what Nettlebeck is brewing when the two are forced to get along?

By this time, Martha, who hasn't eaten an ounce of food throughout, finally bites into a plate of delicious looking pasta after a subterfuge by clever Chef Mario, claiming that the dish was his dying mother's recipe. With that first scrumptious morsel, Martha symbolically begins the transformation into a more complete person, as she boldly confronts her new reality of raising a small child and is forced to share the spotlight with a ridiculously proud bohemian chef.

German subtitles hardly detract from the fun because, after all, this is a love story, and the follies of love transcend language. Mostly Martha can best be described as a case of Frankie and Johnny meets Baby Boom, for it takes the two distinct personalities of a mulish little girl and an overtly masculine Guido-type to bring joy to Martha's life. Gedeck's talents fare favorably in comparison with American greats Michelle Pfeiffer and Diane Keaton in their respectively similar roles. Sergio Castellitto, while he looks eerily similar to Al Pacino when dawning his apron, packs a much-needed comedic punch.

Overall the picture is a real treat, but it's hardly perfect. The plot is as predictable as the menu at a Greek diner, and the dull score weakens the ambiance. However, you'll be so caught up in the imagery of food and the delicate touch of romantic humor, that its flaws are easily overlooked. At the very least, I promise you'll leave the theatre with a ravenous appetite.

Aka Drei Sterne.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 18th April 2002

Box Office USA: $4.0M

Distributed by: Paramount Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Martha Klein, as Lina Klein, as Mario, August Zirner as Martha´s Therapist, as Frida, as Lea, as Carlos, as Bernadette, as Jan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.