Review by Willard Manus
the entertaining new film from Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On,
The Edge of Heaven), is aptly titled. Set in a warehouse restaurant in
Wilhemsburg, which is roughly to the city of Hamburg what Long Island
City is to Manhattan, SOUL KITCHEN is bubbling over with food, drink,
sex and music. When you add irreverence, social commentary and comedy
to the mix, it makes for a potent and bracing stew of a film.
Demir Gökgöl as Sokrates, Anna Bederke as Lucia, Moritz Bleibtreu as Illias, Adam Bousdoukos as Zinos, Pheline Roggan as Nadine, Lucas Gregorowicz as Lutz and Birol Ünel as Shayn in SOUL KITCHEN directed by Fatih Akin (from left to right)
Photo credit: Corazo´n International / Gordon Timpen
An IFC Films release
his problems, though. To begin with, his sharp-tongued girlfriend Nadine
(Pheline Roggan) is a journalist who is being transferred to Shanghai
by her newspaper. Zinos truly does want to be with her, but if he goes
to China who will run his restaurant? Since his brother Illias (Moritz
Bleibtreu) is a petty thief out on parole, he decides out of desperation
to hire a gourmet cook, Shayn Weiss (Birol Unel). Shayn starts turning
out nouvelle cuisine which the regulars hate so much that they begin to
boycott Soul Kitchen.
Moritz Bleibtreu as Illias and Adam Bousdoukos as Zinos in SOUL KITCHEN
directed by Fatih Akin
Photo credit: Corazo´n International
An IFC Films release
Worst of all, a real-estate shark, Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke Mohring, an ex-clubowner himself), swims into view, smelling blood. He'd love to sink his teeth into Soul Kitchen and rip it to shreds as part of a plan to gentrify Wilhelmsburg and make millions for himself.
How Zinos fights back against city hall and urban renewal gives SOUL KITCHEN much of its drama, suspense and relevance. Akin brings the battle to life in an original, deft and audacious way. Using montage, quick scenes, artfully staged confrontations and lots of bawdy humor and stinging satire, plus lashings of sex and drugs, Akin manages to turn his story into a romp, a wonderful and heartwarming comedy.
SOUL KITCHEN won the Special Jury Prize and the Young Cinema Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival 2009. It was also screened at the Toronto and Tribeca film festivals. Chances are, it will have a long run in general release.