Mostly Martha

This delightful 2001 German comedy, "Bella Martha," starts with a tragedy.

The eponymous Martha, played by the wonderful Martina Gedeck ("The Lives of Others" and "The Good Shepard") is a headstrong master chef at a high-end German restaurant. Her obsessive nature prompted her boss to send her to a therapist, but even there, she just talked about food.

All this changes when her sister, enroute for a visit, is killed in an auto- mobile crash. This leaves a nine-year-old niece with no one but Martha to care for her. Problem is, this little girl is every bit as stubborn as her aunt. She just wants her mother and she wants to go home, neither of which is possible, so she goes on a hunger strike. What better way to hurt a chef!

Martha, on the other hand, hasn't a maternal bone in her body. She forgets essentials, e.g., pick up the girl after school. With daycare inappropriate for a nine year old, she takes her along to the restaurant and gets in trouble with the authorities. Finally, her boss forces her to take a short leave of absence so she can adjust to her new situation.

While she is gone, a new Italian chef is hired. When our prima donna returns to work she goes ballistic!

This movie was re-made for American consumption (...smile...) as "No Reservations" with Catherine Zeta-Jones. As usual, I imprinted on the original; I'm sure the DVD is available.