Mostly Martha, directed by Sandra Nettelbeck is a nice German film that doesn't really go anywhere you don't expect it to go. Like a good number of food films (Babette's Feast, Big Night, Like Water for Chocolate, Dinner Rush) it presents a tasty array of dishes and restaurant scenarios which it attempts to fit into the overall story about life.
Martha (Martina Gedeck) is a chef for a top quality restaurant in Hamburg. She makes good money, she makes better food and she's respected. But despite all this – including being a beautiful late 20-something woman – she hasn't found real satisfaction in her life.
Martha is thrown into overnight motherhood when her sister is killed in an auto accident. Suddenly she has to take care of her 8 year-old niece Lina (Maxime Foerste). But she soon learns that she doesn't have what it takes to be a mother. She takes a few days off to adjust and in the meantime the restaurant hires a kooky Italian chef (Sergio Castellitto) to fill in as a back up.
Martha takes offence and at first hates the guy. But eventually she comes around. After all who can resist a kooky Italian – especially one who makes great pasta and has a way with kids?
The film poses two simply questions: When will Martha finally settle down? And when will Martha, the Italian chef and her niece become a family?
From a technical point of view the film is a real winner. It is paced well, looks great, presents fantastic looking plates of food and has a good new age jazzy score.
The DVD is presented in 1.85:1 and looks very good. The film has a warm look to it and the image is clean and sharp. The colors are along the pastel and lighter shade types and there are also a lot of indoor scenes, which are well lit. There is no detectable artifact in the transfer.
The film is in German Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds excellent. The jazzy score gets highlighted a lot. The film has a lot of dialogue and if you understand German it all sounds good.
No extras. They could have at least provided us with a recipe or two from the dishes we see in the film.
Mostly Martha is a German film that feels more like a Hollywood film. That's not a bad thing since it is well acted and enjoyable to watch but it doesn't have that extra bit of depth one expects from the best European films. The DVD looks and sounds very good and there is enough to savor at least one viewing.