Monday, 10 June 2013

Film #5: Mostly Martha (PG)

Released: 2001
Directed by: Sandra Nettelbeck
Original title: Bella Martha

I’ve found it difficult to fit in any films over the past few weeks so my blog writing has fallen slightly by the wayside. Thankfully a couple of quiet weekends have given me time to catch up on the films piling up next to the TV!

The plot of Mostly Martha is very familiar: after her sister dies, a brilliant chef has to confront new aspects of herself when she agrees to care for her young niece and try to find the girl’s natural father. If this were an American film, the protagonist would be kooky and clumsy and played by Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl. Instead, Martha is spiky, socially inept and played by Martina Gedeck, probably best known for the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others

After Lina (Maxime Foerste) comes to live with her, tensions soon mount. Accustomed to diners falling over themselves to praise her food, Martha is left stumped when Lina refuses to eat. Help comes in the unlikeliest form – Mario, the Italian sous-chef who has recently joined the restaurant, and who Martha suspects of trying to usurp her in the kitchen. Resistant to his charms at first, she soon begins to rethink her feelings whilst also trying to keep control of her life.

This film made me smile rather than laugh out loud, and the ending is perhaps sewn up a little too neatly. But one thing it does do well is to observe human interactions, recognising that unlike in Hollywood, most people don’t articulate their feelings at every opportunity. And the cooking scenes will leave your mouth watering! All in all a very charming way to spend a couple of hours.


  1. Have you seen the American re-make of it? With Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart called "No Reservations"? THAT was neatly pieced together in a bad way. The whole conflict that niece and aunt can't come together at the beginning because they are so similar and that it needs a chef who loves food rather than one who seeks perfection cooking it to make a difference was lost in the American remake. So - I'd always recommend the German original. :)

  2. I've heard of it but not seen it. Doesn't surprise me that it doesn't capture the feel of the original. On the whole I much prefer romantic comedies in languages other than English.