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John O'Loughlin on 'Mostly Martha'
on 18 November 2011
This is a truly beautiful, heart-warming film that is not without its ups-and-downs, moving gradually from down to up as the protagonist, Martha Klein (played by the excellent Martina Gedeck), takes over the care of her dead sister's daughter while holding down a demanding job as principal chef in a posh Hamburg restaurant, a difficult juggling act which becomes all the more so as a new chef of Italian origin arrives on the scene to seemingly threaten Martha's position. However, he has more use to her than she first thought, since he enables her to get in touch with her niece's father, also Italian, and arrange for the child to return to Italy. But their relationship has deepened in the meantime to something approaching romance and it soon becomes clear to Martha that the sous-chef Mario (played by an ebullient Sergio Castellito) is having a beneficial effect on young Lina, who likes to help out in the restaurant's kitchen. Eventually something approaching a family unit begins to emerge, with Sergio visiting Martha and Lina at home to cook for them, and Lina's subsequent return to Italy with her father, who has in the meantime turned up at their door, has a devastating effect on Martha, who realizes that she has grown maternally attached to the child and finds life empty without her. The denouement is simply superb, if a little over-simplified, but, suffice it to say, things turn out well in the end, better even than could be hoped for, on at least three fronts. Really, a very charming film.