The House of Stewart
I'm not an American but you don't need to be to have heard of Martha Stewart, in fact I have on occasion looked at her website and whilst did not know the details was aware that she ended up serving some time. But with just this little bit of information I was not entirely sure whether I would get "Driven to Succeed: The Story of Martha Stewart" as I had a feeling that this would be a movie for those who know her story, know about the brush with the law, seen her on TV and read her magazine. I was wrong as "Driven to Succeed: The Story of Martha Stewart" which is also known as "Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart" basically takes us through her life rather than focussing on part of it. But whilst technically a biopic I have a feeling that "Driven to Succeed" is more about the spirit of Martha Stewart rather than a realistic interpretation.
Anyway "Driven to Succeed" starts with Martha arriving at her offices just prior to the news that she may be involved in insider trading breaks and we are given a glimpse of Martha as the demanding perfectionist who smiles on camera but barks orders at her staff when the camera stops rolling. This then leads us back to the start and the world of a 9 year old Martha Kostyra who is making money selling homemade cakes and is already so determined that she sabotages a friends plans when she also wants to get into the cake business. It's all purposefully over the top which is how much of the movie plays out but is designed to highlight that from a young age Martha was driven to succeed something she got from her father who was just as demanding and driven.
After this set up we basically spend the rest of "Driven to Succeed" watching the rise of Martha's career after getting married to Andrew having been a model before going in to the catering business. For someone like me with just the bare knowledge of Martha Stewart it is both interesting and certainly entertaining but I would imagine for her legions of fans it might just be covering already known ground in a semi comedic style. I say comedic but in the midst of this energetic foray through the life of Martha Stewart we do see how her drive, demanding nature and career focus caused problems in her marriage.
What surprises me the most about "Driven to Succeed" is the timing of the movie as I believe it premiered on TV in May 2003 but it wasn't until June that she was indicted. To me it makes it half a movie and considering what Martha Stewart has gone on to do following the charges and her time in prison there is a whole other movie there to be made and I am not just on about how she coped with being behind bars.
Now I am certainly not the right person to judge how accurate Cybill Shepherd's portrayal of Martha Stewart is, but what I can say it is an energetic performance full of gusto as we witness this force of nature driven to succeed. And whilst the movie doesn't call for their to be much chemistry between Shepherd and Tim Matheson who is cast as Martha's husband Andy the casting of Matheson works well as he has this nice guy persona which makes him easy to like despite not being the most fleshed out of characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Driven to Succeed: The Story of Martha Stewart" is very much a movie for those who are aware of the name but not so much the career as it is an energetic, semi comical look at the life and career of Martha Stewart stopping just prior to her indictment.