Friday, May 28, 2010
Soul Kitchen **1/2
Director: Fatih Akin
Cast: Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birol Ünel
Anna Bederke, Pheline Roggan, Lukas Gregorowicz, Dorka Gryllus
Wotan Wilke Möhring, Demir Gökgöl
Less preoccupied with the threats of racial and cultural differences (as he was in The Edge of Heaven) Fatih Akin returns to the screen with a delightful comedy that celebrates the fact that none of us are alike.
Soul Kitchen stars Bousdoukos (who co-wrote the screenplay with Akin) as Zinos Kazantsakis, a Greek restaurant owner trying to make a decent living while the whole universe seems to conspire against him.
His girlfriend Nadine (Roggan) is moving to Shanghai and putting pressure on him to leave with her, his recently out of jail brother Illias (Bleibtreu) is using the restaurant as a front to continue his criminal life. There's also a vicious real estate man (Möhring) trying to take over the restaurant at any price, insane chef Shayn (Üne), greedy tax collectors and a boat building idiosyncratic old man named Sokrates (Gökgöl) who lives in the restaurant but refuses to pay rent.
It's obvious that this time Akin isn't grounded in realism and all the stock characters give the film a farcical, whimsy mood that makes the lack of an actual backstory feel almost irrelevant.
The lines come out of the characters' mouths with irreverent gusto and the performers achieve the kind of synergy most comedies only dream of having.
Bousdoukos is particularly good as a Job of sorts who has all these bad things occur to him but keeps walking forward, even after a hilarious back problem leaves him limping throughout most of the movie.
Bleibtreu does a great job evoking gangster clichés and Üne is just fantastic! His presence gives the movie a straight faced zaniness that it misses when he's not around.
Of course once you actually begin to try and make sense of everything that's going on, it's impossible not to see how unwritten the actual screenplay is, it seems as if these characters were created for the exclusive purpose of existing within the movie's running time and many interesting stories are left out in favor of high paced comedy.
Soul Kitchen is like the dishes we see Zinos preparing out of frozen goods and fatty comfort; they sure make you feel good while you're consuming them but they don't really fill you up, despite the remnant cravings.