Fatih Akin Goes for Happily Hapless in Soul Kitchen

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

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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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