Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Mostly Martha (2001)

MOSTLY MARTHA -- also known as BELLA MARTHA -- is the German film which provided the original source material for the Catherine Zeta-Jones film NO RESERVATIONS, reviewed here last summer. Martina Gedeck plays Martha Klein, an uptight chef whose world is turned upside down first by her orphaned niece, Lina (Maxime Foerste) and then by a free-spirited Italian chef, Mario (Sergio Castellitto).

I caught the movie this weekend thanks to Netflix, and enjoyed it very much. The film struck me as a bit darker in tone than NO RESERVATIONS -- perhaps because of the storyline concerning Lina's Italian father, which was completely dropped from NO RESERVATIONS. I also felt that the little girl's character was not developed as fully as in NO RESERVATIONS.

That said, it's a very well-done movie which is definitely worth seeing. Gedeck does an excellent job portraying the gradual unraveling of the tightly wound Martha into someone capable of expressing love and having a life outside a restaurant kitchen. Along with the drama there are some very funny scenes -- don't turn the movie off too quickly at the end or you'll miss a delightful postscript with Martha and her therapist.

The film runs 109 minutes. It was written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, who also has an uncredited cameo as Lina's mother in a home video.

MOSTLY MARTHA is available DVD and VHS. It has a German-language soundtrack with English subtitles. I was interested both in how many random German words were understood by me, despite not having studied German since high school, and in how many English terms have worked their way into German -- they used the English word "babysitter" rather than a German translation, for example.

NO RESERVATIONS, incidentally, comes to DVD on February 12, just in time for Valentine's Day. Extras include the episode of the Food Network show UNWRAPPED which focused on the movie.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I enjoyed "Mostly Martha". I like cooking movies a lot. It wasn't a movie I would have made, though. I haven't seen "Without Reservations" yet but H and I are looking forward to it even though I suspect it will be a fluffy version of the German movie.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd love to hear what you think of the remake when you see it. I actually thought the remake conveyed the "foodie" cooking angles more enticingly than its predecessor, but it's possible my opinion was swayed because that was the version I saw first.

Have you seen TORTILLA SOUP? Unfortunately it has a couple scenes that I think would have earned an R rating years ago -- now it gets by with a PG-13 -- but wow! the cooking scenes are amazing! Loved Hector Elizondo as the chef. I've got the original Japanese version of that one (EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN) in my Netflix queue.

Best wishes,

11:52 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

With some editing, "Tortilla Soup" would be great. I haven't seen "Eat Drink Man Woman" but I survived "Like Water for Chocolate". Last weekend, H and watched "Waitress". It wasn't family-friendly but had some interesting pie recipes. When we took the kids to see Ratatouille, I came home wanting to cook something French.

6:04 AM  

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