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Mostly Martha

A feast for the senses! 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Distributors must hate getting films like Mostly Martha. They can't just say "This is really good, you should watch it." They have to sell it somehow. If you take Leon and turn him into a neurotic chef, you're getting close.  The truth is, this film hops out of any pigeon hole you might force it into. Best to just sit back and enjoy Mostly Martha for its unique spark of cinematic warmth.

The story is firmly centred on Martha. She shouldn't deserve our warm regards, this joyless workaholic who rules her kitchen with a thin temper and an iron will. Those who annoy her are likely to have their food dumped in their laps rather than recooked. She is focused, brilliant, and obsessive about food.

The owner of the restaurant makes her attending therapy a condition of continued employment. She dutifully attends sessions, where she prepares meals for her therapist.  When he asks why she is in therapy, she professes ignorance and discusses the finer points of gourmet cooking.

Martha's sense of order is about to be disrupted. Two unlikely newcomers enter the temple of her kitchen: another chef and a little girl. To deal with these threats, Martha has to bend a little and focus on something more personal than the food she is used to.

This film carries the label of romantic comedy, and why not? It has some romance, and fine comedy. The comedy mostly originates from Martha's subtle brutality with people. That poor therapist. Those poor customers. The same edge powers the tragedy, where Martha pushes away intimacy through her awkwardness in her personal life.

Mostly Martha is sophisticated without being highbrow. It rewards the effort you put into understanding the characters and represents gourmet cinema.

Bon appetit!

Percival Tucker

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)