Mostly Martha | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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As a portrait of a compulsive and neurotic chef trying to coexist with other people--in particular an eight-year-old niece whose mother has been killed and an Italian sous chef who joins her kitchen staff--this is a well-made and entertaining romantic comedy-drama, providing ample proof that German writer-director Sandra Nettelbeck can turn out a classier commercial feature than most of her Hollywood contemporaries. (She's helped in particular by ECM Records' Manfred Eicher, whose selection of accompanying music--much of it drawn from his own catalog, including two fine Keith Jarrett cuts--is excellent.) But as a showcase for Martina Gedeck, a beautiful and highly creative actress I've never seen before, this is better than good, it's wonderful: if facial expressions can be compared to colors, Gedeck works with an unusually broad palette, constantly surprising us, and she helps make her costars shine. These include Maxime Foerste as the niece and Sergio Castellitto as the sous chef. 107 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark's Century Centre.

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