Directed by Sandra Nettelbeck.
Written by Sandra Nettelbeck.
Starring Martina Gedeck (mostly).
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 8/26/02
“Mostly Martha” is a tiny little German film made tinier by the fact
Okay, maybe that is a little strong. But,
it sure ain’t too good. Maybe for me it was the fact that the film
is such a downer; its tale of loneliness, upper-crusty culinary
delights and the tragic loss of the lead character’s sister in the
opening moments just set a negative tone for me. And, because the
film is so quiet (not
“In the Bedroom”-quiet; just not much going
on) early on, I was surprised that I didn’t fall asleep. But,
“Mostly Martha” picks up as it goes along. Martha (Martina Gedeck)
is a chef in an unnamed German town in the present day. Her world
is completely and utterly food-driven; she compulsively cooks food
for herself while at home—and occasionally actually eats the
food—and she drives herself hard while cooking for one of the city’s
finest four-star restaurants. When her sister is involved in a
fatal accident, Martha becomes the foster parent for Lina (Maxime
Foerste), a stubborn 8-year-old who derails completely after losing
her mother. The relationship between aunt and niece is badly
strained until an Italian chef named Mario (Sergio Castellitto)
starts working at the restaurant and turns everything around.
It is when Mario enters the picture at about
the midway point that “Mostly Martha” really gathers some life.
Castellitto is great in the movie and by serving as both the comic
relief and the obvious love interest for Martha, his added dimension
makes the film watchable. And, if you like looking at
finely-prepared meals, you might like the sights, but for me, it was
a bunch of food that I either can’t afford or don’t want to eat, so
that was a downer too. But, I just found myself sitting in the
theater tonight saying “blah” a lot—nothing about “Mostly Martha” is
very interesting cinematically, and the narrative is a
tried-and-true version of a food-is-love theme seen often in recent
releases like “Big Night” and
“Chocolat.” The drama between Lina
and Martha feels real, but not real interesting. It doesn’t help
that Lina’s character only shows life in one or two of her many
scenes; otherwise, she is (understandably) mournful.
And, the score of this film is atrocious.
Wow! All I could think of every time they played the same little
jazz tune is when the band from “Saturday Night Live” would play
before commercial breaks—this is as bland as it gets. It’s just the
kind of music that you would baste your turkey in. Ech. Support by
The Other People in the Movie is nothing to write home about, and
scenes with Martha’s psychiatrist (August Zirner) are mostly bad.
This movie also features one of those flash-forward endings where we
get to see what happens with Martha a few months and a few years
from now; I’ve never really gotten into that if these are made-up
characters. Just end your movie already!
The best thing about this movie came during
the screening in the audience; one of the women sitting nearby had
this really bad, embarrassing laugh that I am sure made someone next
to her VERY uncomfortable. You know what I’m saying? This lady was
laughing at damned near everything that even had a hint of humor in
it, so lots of times she was laughing when nothing was happening,
because she couldn’t STOP laughing at the previous scene. This made
me laugh a couple of times at her (not WITH her). Good stuff...but,
you had to be there.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard