SOUL KITCHEN Review

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SOUL KITCHEN Review
[Our thanks to Michel Thein for the following review.]

Considering Fatih Akin's catalog of films, one might not think that he could write and direct a comedy that wouldn't  feel bleak like Head-on or excessively passionate like Solino. One might go as far as to say that it might turn out to be not that much of a funny movie. Then came the trailer  and it looked exactly like the man's films always look, a sense for detail in composition of frame and a sense for color and colorfulness of life and sure enough there were some laughs in the trailer that looked clever and natural but would he be able to pull it off for 99minutes?

Going into the movie the cast list is already impressive; it's a real who's who of Akin's previous movies. We follow Adam Bousdoukos and Moritz Bleibtreu as Greek brothers from Hamburg as they transform their snack shop into a real thriving hot spot for music, haute cuisine and social happenings. All with the help of Birol Ünel, as the alcoholic chef, and a couple of musical montages. Trouble ensues when a greedy business man comes up with some Disney Channel Original Movie-type scheme to destroy the place.

Needless to say the plot is quite straight forward you can pretty much see how this one goes just by reading a 50 word synopsis. Once Soul Kitchen reveals itself on the screen the predictable plot is forgotten and forgiven within seconds. The driving force behind this is certainly the soundtrack. Soul, Funk and Jazz, some Turkish tunes some Spanish songs, and it all fits together so nicely. It has always been clear that director Akin had a sixth sense for the right track at exactly the right moment. This applies to Soul Kitchen as all songs seem picked from an impressive library of a music-literate man. There are some very obvious choices to be made when talking Soul and Funk in movies and this soundtrack thankfully won't need those.

As much care as Akin took on selecting the tunes he took an even greater care of making this look exquisite. Rainer Klausmann operates the camera, just as he did for the director's previous movies including The Edge of Heaven and the excellent Head-On. Once more this looks fantastic, Klausmann captures the beauty and warmth of squatter apartments and rotten bars always staying flexible following the actors and reacting to a wild party and the hung-over morning after. Always a real treat on screen is Birol Ünel who reigns with shear presence and almost steals the show, if he then were one of the main characters, but it is probably for the better as the main gang is much more suited for the rom-com movie. Although Adam Bousdoukos seems to basically scream in every scene he's in, he manages to stay a believable character easy to identify with. Often comedies tend to have stereotype characters running around and doing exactly what you would expect them to do, they still do that in Soul Kitchen, but they are much less cliché comedy protagonists but rather honest and real people.

Readers who might have seen some Akin's movies probably know all this already. Here's a director who always takes great care in what he's doing and has yet to disappoint. So the question remains, is it a good comedy? Yes, it certainly is. Written by Akin and his leading actor Bousdoukos this sure has some clever laughs in it. There's the occasional slapstick spiel but throughout the movie the script stays fresh, quirky and funny. The timing is always spot on and it manages to keep up a constant flow of clever comedy from beginning to end. Akin even masters the art of the Funny Reveal Pan and the often overlooked golden thread joke; that special catchphrase at the end of the third act that refers to something that happened in the first act.

Looks, feels and sounds great; genuinely funny without taking a dip in the silly pool, believable characters, Birol Ünel and a wonderful soundtrack will probably make this a big hit in Germany. And that's what this is, a movie made to be a Blockbuster. Not a Teen Movie but a grown-up clever comedy. Not often does a critically acclaimed director come out with a mainstream movie that is so well done. Silly twist less plot aside, Soul Kitchen satisfies the aficionado's taste buds and keeps the fast food junkie entertained.

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Fatih AkinAdam BousdoukosMoritz BleibtreuPheline RogganAnna BederkeComedyDrama

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