Soul Kitchen

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Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
Soul Kitchen
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Zinos (Adam Bousdoukas) owns a hole-in-wall eatery in the city’s warehouse district and, while the food is not so good, it is cheap and he has a loyal group of locals as his clientele. Things go very wrong when, first, he hurts his back, then, his convict brother shows up on his doorstep begging for a job and Zinos hires him to manage “Soul Kitchen.”

Fatih Akin, with the script from his star Adam Bousdoukas, delivers a light weigh farce about a man, Zinos, who leads a contented life. His restaurant, Soul Kitchen, has hearty, plain fare and is always busy and he has a beautiful girlfriend, Nadine (Pheline Roggan), who, unfortunately, is moving to China to be a journalist. Then, things go bad, starting when he throws out his back.

Zinos meets an old school chum, Thomas Neuman (Wotan Wilke Mohring), a real estate broken who offers to buy Soul Kitchen. Zinos refuses the offer and Neuman begins a secret campaign to shut him down. With his back rendering him useless in the kitchen, he hires chef Shayn Weiss (Birol Unel), a talented but volatile maestro of the kitchen who completely changes the menu. The locals do not like the new cuisine and leave in droves. Now, Zinos must face a failing business, no girlfriend and back pain that has him popping pain killers like M&Ms.

This tale of a man put upon by fate and greed never takes itself too seriously. Adam Bousdoukas does well as downtrodden Zinos who must figure out a way to fix his life while suffering increasingly with his back problems. The actor gives a good physical performance as a guy made crazy by pain. The ensemble cast also does well in fleshing out the surrounding characters.

“Soul Kitchen” serves up sometimes tasty fare that makes me give it a positive C+.

Fatih Akin ("Head-On," "The Edge of Heaven") cleans his palate from his heavy immigrant dramas with this light, rambling and rather cliched comedy.  Adam Bousdoukos, who cowrote the screenplay, stars as Zinos Kazantsakis, a Greek immigrant running a restaurant in a converted Hamburg warehouse.  He makes lousy food, but has regular customers and a hot Teutonic girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan).  But when she decides to further her journalism career by moving to China Zinos' world begins to crumble.  He hires temperamental fine dining chef Shayn Weiss (Birol Ünel, "Head-On") who drives away his regulars.  His brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu, "Run Lola Run," "The Baader Meinhof Complex") gets him to sign employment papers to get him on work release from prison and an old schoolmate, Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke Möhring, "Valkyrie"), pretends to pal up when he really wants to get his hands on Vinos' real estate.  Then his back goes out and the uninsured cook discovers he has a herniated disk.

Things all manage to come back together of course, but there are few surprises.  There are also few real laughs despite Bousdoukos's engaging performance.  And in a film called "Soul Kitchen" with a star sporting a Jim Morrison 'do' one expects some music and Akin delivers an eclectic soundtrack featuring everything from the film's own Bad Boy Boogiez Band to old German and Greek folk songs.  One would also expect a lot of food and it is telling that Vinos's preparation of frozen fare is more compelling to watch than Shayn's gourmet cooking.

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