An uptight gourmet chef learns to loosen up when she becomes the caretaker of her orphaned niece, and meets an Italian chef.
Genre: Foreign Film - German
Release Date: 12-DEC-2003
Media Type: DVD
Ana M. from SALISBURY, MD Reviewed on 8/22/2010...
This is a movie that my family enjpyed, including my teen. It was very easy to follow the subtitles. The characters worked very well with each other. No one seemed to be working hard at acting. Loved the whole restaurant theme. A story that revealed itself like a god meal with a comfortable ending/dessert.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
S A A. (Learned2Heal) Reviewed on 11/28/2009...
Yes, that is correct. No reservations was an American rendering of this original movie. As is usually the case, this one, the original, far surpasses the copy in rendition. The script is better, although it's quite similar, the original one has more flow, less pretense. The acting is better, more fluid, more natural. The score is much more interesting. And, while the American version has flashier sets, the European ones ring truer.
All in all, I recommend seeing this version of the story, because it is much more interesting to watch, in spite of the subtitles.
The actors are very good in their roles and very watchable. The story is heartwarming and, although somewhat predictable, still interesting. Also, it's interesting to see the inner workings of a 5 star German restaurant.
This is a very nice family movie that teaches lessons about love, loss and the strength to move on to find new love and shelter.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Emily E. from ASHEVILLE, NC Reviewed on 12/1/2008...
No Reservations was based on this movie. This one came first.
2 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rory C. Reviewed on 12/1/2008...
The plot sounds suspiciously like No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. However, I suspect this movie is more imaginative.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
The zest for life and love
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 02/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, "Bella Martha", strangely translated as "Mostly Martha", was her first big feature film, and won international awards and delighted many...perhaps mostly women, as it is exquisitely romantic. Martina Gedeck as Martha, the master chef who tries to control her world while it collapses around her, is superb. She has an intense kind of beauty and grace, strong but emotionally fragile, and Gadeck's body language speaks volumes, and lets us see into her heart with a simple gesture of the hand, or a flicker in her eyes. This is one of the best performances I've seen in a very long time.
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 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. "
A Passion for Food leads to Love
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 10/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Food is a great passion of mine, and I think it is one of the best visual and most sensual metaphors life has to offer." ~Sandra Nettelbeck, German Director
Martha (Marina Gedeck) is a sexy chef living her life in a very organized fashion. She is single, doesn't have any children and seems to have found the perfect job. As a chef, she takes great pride in her creations and is even willing to confront customers who question her cooking skills, especially if they involve a discussion of how Duck Foie Gras should be cooked. As a perfectionist, she refuses to accept that anything could be wrong with her world, her gourmet cooking or her opinions on food preparation.
What Martha is really lacking is an ability to open up her heart and allow love to flow to those around her. She has a passion for cooking, but not for life. While she seems to take pleasure in her cooking, she doesn't seem to have a sense of humor about her world. Restaurant manager, Frida (Sibylle Canonica), insists that she go to therapy and yet, she rarely deals with her inner world, she is more concerned about recipes. She leaves her therapist (August Zirner) rather confused as he can't figure out why she is in therapy. Even when her sister is in an accident, she deals with the pain by thinking about a Lobster's death.
When an accident leaves her eight-year-old niece, Lina (Maxine Foerste), in need of care, Martha's heart starts to open to the world. Together Lina and Martha take a journey to healing that is not without conflict. Martha not only accepts Lina into her home, she also vows to find Lina's father. I like the way the director doesn't spoon feed the audience, there are often items you don't fully understand until much later in the movie.
Taking on these new responsibilities and dealing with her own sense of loss leaves Martha unable to work for a short period of time. During this time, the restaurant manager hires an eccentric Italian chef. Mario (Sergio Castellitto) is just perfect in this role and introduces a conflict Martha is not equipped to deal with on any level. I loved his sense of humor, the way he played Italian songs in the kitchen and how he inspired frivolity and a joy for life in everyone around him.
While Marina Gedeck adds a sexy beauty to this movie, Sergio Castellitto adds warmth and romance. Martha really becomes like a little piece of chocolate melting in his mouth. If you can imagine how frosty she is at first and then how Mario makes her feel when he finally kisses her.
Some of Martha's facial expressions had me laughing because she is so serious amidst the utter comedy of various situations. I think I could relate to her near "panic attack" when she saw what happened to her own kitchen when Mario comes over to make dinner. That is my favorite scene besides the amazing kissing scene and the picnic scene. There is so much to love in this movie!
"Mostly Martha" is one of those unforgettable "foodie" movies you could watch three times in a row because it makes your world feel sane, calm and comforting. It was shot on locations in and around Hamburg, Germany and in some beautiful locations in Italy. The soundtrack takes this story to new levels and there is an element of intimacy that runs through the entire movie. This movie is thoughtful, romantic and there are wonderful scenes of delicious gourmet cooking.
If you enjoy this movie, you might enjoy other "foodie" movies like:
Scent of Green Papaya - Exotic cooking Eat Drink Man Woman - Chef Theme Simply Irresistible - Chef Theme My Big Fat Greek Wedding - restaurant theme Chocolat -Chocolate, need we say more? Babette's Feast - A cold, dreary world warmed by an amazing dinner Tortilla Soup - Family & Fun, this is a version of Eat Drink Man Woman, chef theme
~The Rebecca Review"
Almost done in by lame U.S. marketing spin
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 11/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a common complaint that great European films are often killed by brain-dead U.S. marketing campaigns - usally these are excellent light dramas absurdly cast as screwball comedies. The most egregious example is "East is East," in which an outstanding film bears absolutely zero correlation to the description of it on a stupefyingly dumb U.S.-issued VHS coverbox. "Mostly Martha" suffers from some of that. This is an excellent movie - a feel good piece without pandering. Martina Gedeck's outstanding portrayal of "Martha" is well worth your money. This got buried quickly in the U.S. because I felt like it was marketed to highlight the 'screwball' relationship between Martha and Mario...of course, their relationship is anything but & comprises only one-third of the story or so.I urge you to pick this up when it becomes available on DVD - you're in for a real treat."
Charlotte Vale-Allen | CT USA | 09/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is much, much more than another great food movie--although it's definitely got some wonderful food happening. What's impressive here is the directorial restraint--the audience is allowed to decide for themselves what Martha's background might have been to see her into adulthood so detached from people that her entire life has become her career. The kitchen is where Martha lives; it is her dominion. The food she produces (unlike her life) is flawless. Beyond the confines of the restaurant, things are random, uncontrollable; nothing coalesces the way her perfect recipes do.
With the arrival of her orphaned niece into her life and a second (Italian) chef at the restaurant, life, in spite of Martha's best efforts, begins to leak in around the edges of her fiercely maintained control--of herself and of her kitchen. There are moments of great yet gentle humor and moments of confused pain as emotions begin to grow in Martha--visibly an alien experience.
This is a wise film, filled with insight and humor; the soundtrack is wonderful and the resolution is immensely satisfying.
Not to be missed. Most highly recommended."
A beautiful, wonderful story
Rebecca Johnson | 01/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the story of a beautiful, obcessive gourmet chef who is a master in the kitchen, but struggles with human relationships, whether with a complaining restaurant customer. an exhuberant Italian chef who adores her, or her 8 year old niece. The photography alone is worth seeing this movie, from the food preparation shots to her psychiatrist's minimalist office. The warmth and main interest come from Gedick's performance, which is subtle and beautifully arresting. She is a consummate actress and I wish she would make American films! Obviously difficulties in being a new parent (her niece comes to live with her after Martha's sister dies)and being loved by a passionate but patient man (The Italian chef) arise. But it works out naturally and we see Martha grow from the difficulties and become
an even more beautiful and whole woman. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS."