Fatih Akin’s new German-language dramatic comedy “Soul Kitchen” is an astonishing feat in filmmaking. The lively little flick is tremendously fun from start to finish thanks to a jam-packed plot and some excellent performances.
Adam Bousdoukos stars as Zinos, the manager and chef of Soul Kitchen, a warehouse-based neighborhood restaurant that serves frozen pizza, fish burgers and macaroni and cheese. Zinos loves his restaurant but a rash of bad-luck threatens to take it – and everything else – away from him.
First, Zinos’s girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan) has decided to take a job as a newspaper correspondent in Shanghai. Then, Zinos throws his back out while trying to install a new dishwasher. With the odds stacked against him, Zinos hires his parolee brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu) and a new chef (Birol Unel) to take his place at Soul Kitchen.
But then, even more trouble comes Zinos’s way. A woman from the tax office confiscates his stereo system, a health inspector wants to close the restaurant down and a real-estate shark is desperate to get his hands on the place. With only his brother and his waitress (Anna Bederke) at his side, Zinos must try to come up with a plan to save Soul Kitchen.
Of course, that is only a brief rundown of “Soul Kitchen’s” synopsis. There is an impressive amount of things transpiring in the movie, mirroring the hurried day-to-day life of a short-order cook. Yet, Akin handles each element without any of it ever overwhelming the audience.
In fact, the snappy nature of the motion pictures is perhaps its most endearing quality. The chaos that consumes Zinos’s life is enormously entertaining to behold. Yet we also feel an emotional attachment to the character that encourages us to hope he is able to regain control.
Bousdoukos is a charming actor; one of the rare kind that manages to capture that everyman aura. Moreover, Bousdoukos does a spectacular job portraying Zinos’s passion and desperation. It is with these two feelings and this particular character that “Soul Kitchen” is able to connect so extraordinarily well with the audience.
On the other hand, each of the supporting actors – especially Bleibtreu and Bederke, whose characters get romantically involved – also play a hand in making “Soul Kitchen” an enjoyable piece of entertainment. Even the breathtakingly beautiful Roggan is wonderful despite spending much of her screen-time on Skype.
In the end, “Soul Kitchen” is an innately quirky flick that resembles a grown-up fairy tale. Good food, good music, good friends… what more can you ask for?
“Soul Kitchen” (NR – 99 minutes) is now available via IFC Films On Demand. Visit www.ifcfilms.com for more information.