“Soul Kitchen” (2009) is a lively and enjoyable German comedy about a Greco-German chef/restaurant owner named Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) striving to save his locals-only restaurant housed in a Hamburg warehouse space.
Facing mounting tax bills, a departing girlfriend and painful back ailment, Zinos is desperate for support and enlists his incarcerated brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu) to run the establishment as part of a prison work release program. Unable to cook because of his newfound physical limitations, he's also forced to hire the highly mercurial Shayn (Birol Ünel) as his new head chef—a move that precludes a transition to a new haute cuisine menu that puts off their blue collar clientele entirely. This unlikely nucleus soon transforms the titular eatery into a gourmet destination and hip music venue, amidst widespread comical strife between the various disparate personas involved.
“Soul Kitchen” is a light and whimsical affair from writer/director Fatih Akin (“Head-On”, “The Edge of Heaven”), showcasing his flair for lively characterization, bustling plot elements and undertones of heartfelt compassion. One of the most exciting auteurs working in film today, Akin delivers a confident and playful tale of discord and enrichment, amounting to one of his most entertaining early accomplishments.
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