Fatih Akin Goes for Happily Hapless in Soul Kitchen


Soul Kitchen
Directed by Fatih Akin
IFC Films
Opens August 20
IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza

Moving in just six years from critic-approved discovery (Head-On) to state-of-the-union meller (Edge of Heaven), with a fruitful detour into the music doc (Crossing the Bridge), Turkish-German director Fatih Akin now takes a break with a peppy Eurocomedy. Wild-haired young Greek-German Zinos Kazantsakis (Adam Bousdoukos) runs a lumpen-loved schnitzel joint in a former Hamburg warehouse. Events with socioeconomically loaded undertones send this Akin protagonist spinning: Rich, pasty-faced girlfriend (Pheline Roggan) chases a job in China, light-fingered brother Ilias (watch-twirling Moritz Bleibtreu) gets parole, crass childhood friend Thomas (Wotan Wilke Möhring) schemes to flip the property, a militant new chef triggers clientele flight ("Culinary racists!"). But since the filmmaker's main agenda here is to keep things bumping along, the fraught situations are happily played and funk-scored as crowd-pleasing rather than issue-stroking. As the hapless, devoted, herniated restaurateur, Bousdoukos mugs, frets, and Frankenstein-walks with a winning excitability. Pseudo-retro fish-eye lensing, party-camera pivots, and obvious gags are among the movie's goofier features. Akin tends toward snappy plotlines, but the amiable sell of his latest movie turns that bug into a feature.


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