Soul Kitchen

Soul Kitchen is the latest film from the German director, Fatih Akin. I’ve seen two previous films by Akin: Im Juli and The Edge of Heaven. The first is a mildly amusing romantic comedy, and the second is a “serious” film that I found shallow and dishonest. (The Edge of Heaven won the Cannes Film Festival award for best screenplay. I guess that tells us how reliable film festivals are.) His latest film is a return to comedy, a move that seems to me to be well-advised.

Soul Kitchen tells the story of Zinos Kazantsakis (Adam Bousdoukos), a restaurant owner in Hamburg. Zinos does all his own cooking, but when he injures his back, he hires a hot-tempered cook, Shayn (Birol Ünel) to take his place. Shayn’s innovative menu makes the place a hit with Hamburg’s trendy art crowd. However, a greedy businessman, Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke Möhring) covets the building that Zinos owns. When Zinos leaves for China to join his journalist girlfriend, Nadine (Pheline Roggan), he puts his criminally inclined brother, Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu), in charge of the restaurant, with disastrous results.

Soul Kitchen is a better film than the earlier works I mentioned. The characters are more well-rounded and believable, and there is none of the high-minded pretentiousness of The Edge of Heaven. I found the film mostly funny, though I thought some of the slapstick was overdone. (In one scene, we are supposed to laugh when a man is thrown against a cement floor.)

Akin is the son of Turkish immigrants, and his previous films have touched upon the problems confronting immigrants in Germany. There isn’t much of that in Soul Kitchen, although it is perhaps significant that the odious Thomas refers to Zinos as “the Greek”. In one scene, it is implied that Shayn has difficulty finding work because he is Roma. Aside from that, there aren’t any politics in the film, although, considering the dismal preaching in The Edge of Heaven, that is probably a good thing.

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2 Responses to “Soul Kitchen”

  1. entdinglichung Says:

    my favorite one by Akin is Short Sharp Shock (1998)

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