Mostly Martha (2001); German language; starring Martina Gedeck, Maxime Foerste, and Sergio Castellitto; written and directed by Sandra Nettlebeck.
The Short Version
Like food? You’ll love Mostly Martha.
The Plot in a Nutshell
Martha, a chef whose extreme dedication to her cooking has landed her in therapy, inherits her eight-year-old niece. They have to figure out how to live together—a journey slightly eased by a handsome Italian sous-chef.
The Reason You (and Your Gentleman/Lady Friend) Will Love it
Second, it’s a warm-hearted little romantic dramedy that doesn’t look down on its audience. The main characters, particularly Martha and her niece, are well-developed and complicated; the jokes are funny (there’s a great bit with a raw steak); and the love scenes are sweet and sexy. Crisp timing and dialogue blessedly allow Mostly Martha to avoid an excess of sentiment—it’s a plot that could easily turn maudlin.
The New York Times wrote that the film, which boasts a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and won a bunch of awards when it was released, “has a trim, ticking precision, though Manfred Eicher (one of the founders of the ECM jazz label) adds a score that gives the picture a light-handed rhythm. Ms. Nettelbeck seems to have achieved a balance of control and autonomy so that ‘Mostly Martha’ doesn't feel as if it was directed by its central figure. The final confection is extremely enjoyable, though a few degrees shy of perfection.” It’s a feel-good movie in the nicest possible way—one that actually makes the viewer feel good, instead of overwhelming them with sugar and cloying emotions.
If the plot sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve seen the not-totally-horrible American adaptation, No Reservations. Saccharine and heavy-handed, No Reservations loses the gentle bite and crispness of Mostly Martha.
1 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash of orange bitters
Orange slice, for garnish
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
From The Art of Vintage Cocktails
My husband swears by Ina Garten’s spaghetti aglio e olio recipe, and as his number one dinner guest, I agree with him. For the asparagus, adding a little balsamic vinegar is a nice touch.