Bored with her job at a Minneapolis car rental agency, restless Martha (Monica Potter) impetuously takes a trip to London. On her adventure Martha encounters three Englishmen who coincidentally all know each other. Theres music bigwig Daniel (Tom Hollander), card champion Laurence (Joseph Fiennes) and aspiring actor Frank (Rufus Sewell). All three men end up pursuing Martha, oblivious of each other which, of course, results in an elaborate romantic entanglement.
Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence (released in the United States as The Very Thought of You) is a 1998 British romantic comedy directed by Nick Hamm. The screenplay by Peter Morgan focuses on the chance meeting each of three childhood friends now living in London has with an American tourist.
Laurence recounts to his neighbour how his life long friendship with Frank and Daniel has been overturned in just three days by their each independently meeting, and falling for, Martha, who has no idea of their connection. Slowly the tale unfolds, the narrative moving backwards and forwards gradually filling in the gaps until we see the whole picture
Fed up with her dead-end job with a Minneapolis car rental agency, Martha quits, cashes her final paycheck, and uses the money to purchase an airline ticket to the least expensive international destination she can find - London. At the airport, she meets Daniel, a successful music label executive, who covertly arranges for her to be upgraded to First Class and seated next to him on the flight. When she sells the ticket to another passenger and Daniel finds his seatmate is an obnoxiously loud woman instead of the girl of his dreams, he moves back to the Economy section and takes the vacant seat next to Martha. Before landing in London, he offers her the use of a deluxe suite in a luxury hotel at his companys expense in exchange for a lunch date the following day.
Through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, we learn Laurence, a former bridge champion who now teaches the game to wealthy women, went to the airport to pick up Daniel but missed him because the flight landed early. Instead, he literally runs into Martha, who hits him with a luggage cart while searching for the exit. She coerces him into taking her into the city and invites him to the suite for dinner. While she is in the bathroom, a bouquet of flowers from Daniel is delivered to the suite, and when Laurence sees the attached card, he departs without explanation.
The following day, Martha meets struggling actor Frank, who has fled an audition in a panic and has gone to the park to console himself with a pint of whiskey. Having heard about her from Daniel, he realizes who she is and calls Laurence to boast that he is about to make her his conquest. He takes her to a nearby art gallery. Martha slips away and heads for the exit, where she reunites with Laurence, who was looking for the pair. He invites her back to his flat, and she accepts.
Torn between loyalty to Daniel and love for Martha, Laurence seeks advice from Pederson, a neighbor he mistakenly believes is a psychiatrist, in the early morning hours. In the interim, Martha awakens and, seeing a photograph of the three friends, assumes she has been the target of an elaborate practical joke. To get even, she separately invites each of the men to meet her for breakfast, and when all three arrive, bearing floral arrangements of varying size, a brawl ensues.
Laurence sees Martha running off in the distance but is unable to catch her. Despondent, he goes to a travel agency to purchase a ticket anywhere he can go for £99, which proves to be Reykjavik. At the airport gate, he is told he is being seated in First Class, and when he boards the plane, he finds Martha waiting for him. She reveals she was responsible for the upgrade, a trick she learned from Daniel.Monica Potter as Martha
Joseph Fiennes as Laurence
Tom Hollander as Daniel
Rufus Sewell as Frank
Ray Winstone as Pedersen
The film was shot on location in Minneapolis, at Stansted Airport in Essex, and at various London locations, including Battersea Park, Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, and South Bank.
The soundtrack includes "Halo" by Texas, "Brown Paper Bag" by Roni Size, "Fall in Love with Me" by Booth and the Bad Angel, "Fools Like Us" by Echo & the Bunnymen, "Tape Loop" by Morcheeba, and "I Only Want to Be with You" by Dusty Springfield.
The film holds a 33% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 4.8/10, based on 9 reviews. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 43, based on 10 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average reviews".
Stephen Holden of the New York Times called the film "one of those coyly edited movies that fills in the mystifying gaps in its story by periodically doubling back to repeat a scene with new crucial information added." He added, "To maintain its fizz, a comedy like The Very Thought of You requires the spicy contemporary equivalent of Noel Coward banter. But if the story is a clever sitcomy contraption, the dialogue is pedestrian. Among the contestants for Marthas love, the only character with a distinctive personality is Hollanders vain, petulant Daniel, whose ego is in need of puncturing. As the shy, tongue-tied Laurence, who needs lessons in self-assertion, Fiennes lacks the debonair twinkle and the comic timing of Hugh Grant, who might have made the role come alive. As for Ms. Potters Martha, the character is a fabrication that not even Ms. Roberts with all her wiles could have made believable." Variety?????s Derek Elley wrote: "Lack of real chemistry between the leads and unsteady direction by Nick Hamm dampen an otherwise promising screenplay by Peter Morgan." He also called the film "in some respects a 90s version of Richard Lesters 60s comedy The Knack".
Sliding Doors (1998). Joseph Fiennes and Steven ODonnell appear in Martha - Meet Frank - Daniel and Laurence and Shakespeare in Love. Born Romantic (2000). Jack and Sarah (1995). Tom Hollander appears in Martha - Meet Frank - Daniel and Laurence and A Good Year.
The Region 1 DVD was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on 14 December 1999. The film is in anamorphic widescreen format with an audiotrack and subtitles in English. There are no bonus features. The Region 2 DVD was released on 7 June 2004.