Mostly Martha [DVD] 
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A bittersweet comedy about acceptance and the pressures of modern-day life. Martha Klein (Martina Gedeck) is the uncompromising head chef in a Hamburg restaurant, whose work is her life. Her boss Frida (Sibylle Canonica) forces her to take time off to care for her niece Lina (Maxime Foerste) after her sister's death in an accident. Further shocks are in store on her return to work in the shape of handsome Italian sous-chef Mario (Sergio Castellitto).
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Top Customer Reviews
In this case, Martha is Martha Klein (Martina Gedeck), a supremely talented chef, who lords over the kitchen of the Lido, an upscale Hamburg restaurant. Martha is so obsessed with food preparation and presentation that she'll confront any customer that sends her creations back to the kitchen. Because Martha is "the second best" chef in the city, the Lido's owner, Frida (Sibylle Canonica), refrains from firing Klein, but has demanded that she see a therapist. On the shrink's couch, Martha talks only of recipes. Over his objections, she even prepares meals for him to eat at his desk.
Martha's regimented life is disrupted when her sister, a single mother, perishes in an auto accident. Martha is left to care for Lina (Maxine Foerste), her 8-year old niece, while attempting to contact Giuseppe, the girl's father living somewhere in Italy. In the meantime, Frida hires another chef, Mario (Sergio Castellitto), to augment her kitchen staff. Mario's free and easy personality is the antithesis of Martha the Control Freak. Martha finds her life spinning into chaos, especially when it becomes apparent that she's failing miserably as a surrogate Mom to Lina, who remains depressed over her mother's death and so passively hostile that she won't even eat the perfectly prepared and arranged dishes that Martha sets before her.
Had MOSTLY MARTHA been made in Tinseltown, it would've inevitably starred Meg Ryan as Martha, Tom Hanks as Mario, and some adorable child star as the incorrigible Lina.Read more ›
It is a truly great movie. See it!!
Her relationship with her 8 year old niece Lina, so well played by Maxime Foreste, is complex, understandable, and very moving, and the chemistry between Martha and Mario, (Sergio Castellitto is perfect in the part) is fabulous, complete opposites attracting. The supporting cast are all excellent, and director Nettelbeck plays Lina's mother in a touching video sequence.
The score by David Darling and Keith Jarrett is marvelous, with delicate sections of Arvo Part's music for one of the most tragic scenes, and includes a bit of Dean Martin's version of "Volare", and oh joy ! the irresistible, simply scrumptious "Via con Me" by Paolo Conte, a song so happy it would make a bear smile. The cinematography by Michael Bertel is also wonderful, with location shots of Hamburg and Italy, and overflowing vistas of delectable food.
I cried, I laughed out loud, and I will always remember this film; it is a small but polished gem.
Total running time is 109 minutes.
While foremost this film provides a very relaxed viewing, there are some overarching cultural themes to be noted. The (romantic) tensions between the rational/structured German and lively-emotional Italian mentality build the base for the life of Martha, Martha's erstwhile sister and Lina, Martha's nice. For British and non-German viewers alike, the narrative provides a captivating insight into the mutual admiration of two European countries for each other's idiosyncracies. With regards to the filming, director Sandra Nettleback used the setting of Lido's (Matha's French/Italian cuisine) Kitchen as the place where it's all happening, and the one bed room flat for the more disruptive patches of the character's relationships. Paolo Conte's music and the lively colors of the food presented add to the positive and enjoyable vibes the viewer gets from the film.
Net net, a film that can be enjoyed more than once and a must-see for those looking for a break from Hollywood movies.
I hesitated between ***/**** (the story is nothing unusual and it could be 15mins shorter) but decided for more because it is the kind of film which leaves you feeling positive (instead of sour or worried).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had seen this film when it was first released in the cinema and liked it very much. Now many years later it I still like it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Johanna Teutscher
Great movie, especially if you love food :-) The subtle humour is great. A winner!Published 17 months ago by H BURGER
Superbly filmed and acted.
Martina Gedeck is brilliant, anyway, and she needed to be, for this film to work at all. And she did a great job here. Read more
Great film about talented difficult people. Loved every minute of it - even the sad parts. Keeping it to view again when I have flu or am a bit down.Published on 10 Jun. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Martha is a perfectionist in the kitchen and functions brilliantly until life gets in the way and she struggles to adjust. Wonderful cookery and a slow-burning love story too.Published on 3 May 2014 by Jacquie Meredith
I saw this movie in the Art house cinema on the Kings Road when it was out in 2003. I loved it so much I took all my friends to see it and so watched it three times in the same... Read morePublished on 24 Jan. 2014 by Ljean3
(the film):The head chef at swish Hamburg restaraunt The Lido, Martha Klein's perfectionism and obsession with good cooking leaves little free time for romantic entanglements. Read morePublished on 17 Mar. 2012 by S. F. husseiny