Studio:IFC Films Year: 2009 Cast: Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birol ‹nel, Pheline Roggan, Anna Bederke, Dorka Gryllus, Wotan Wilke MŲhring, Lucas Gregorowicz, Demir Gokgol, Cem Akin, Marc Hosemann, Catrin Striebeck, Ugur Yucel, Udo Kier, Monica Bleibreu Director: Fatih Akin Release Date: December 21, 2010 Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, language) Run Time: 01h:39m:54s Genre(s): foreign
Fatih Akin has yet to stumble as a director, and I'd be shocked if this was his first misfire. A powerful cast and compelling story should make this another unforgettable gem.
Movie Grade: B
DVD Grade: B+
Turkish filmmaker Faith Akin burst on the international cinema scene with the powerful, 2004
drama, Head-On. He followed that up with 2007ís The Edge of Heaven which received even more acclaim than
its predecessor. After helming a segment in the 2009 anthology, New York, I Love You, Akin released his next
feature, Soul Kitchen. Also widely heralded by critics, Akin used an all-star international cast to make his first
foray into dark comedy. While it isnít as compelling as his previous works and threatens to completely fall off the
rails, this is still further proof that Faith Akin has only just begun as a filmmaker and his best work is yet to come.
IFCís DVD is a solid effort, with a great video presentation and surprisingly spry audio mix, along with a couple of
nice extras along for the ride.
Zinos Kazantsakis (Adam Bousdoukos) is a Greek immigrant living in Germany, who also happens to own a
restaurant named ďSoul Kitchen.Ē Itís a strange place to say the least, located in an old warehouse thatís virtually
inaccessible to anyone but the locals, but it continues to stay open thanks to a collection of regulars and its unique
atmosphere. Zinosí life is slowing going in the wrong direction though, as his girlfriend, Nadine (Pheline Roggan) is
going to China for work, and his brother, Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu) drops in, looking for part time work as part of a
prison-release program. Heís also in incredible pain due to a slipped disc in his back, and his newly-hired chef,
Shayn (Birol ‹nel), is good at what he does, but is too much of a wild man for Zinos to keep in check. Believe it or
not, things get even worse, as an old schoolmate named Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke MŲhring) will stop at
nothing to buy ďSoul KitchenĒ so he can sell it to a rich land developer (Udo Kier), and essentially take away
everything that Zinos lives for.
Soul Kitchen is an interesting change of direction for Faith Akin. With the first half of the film at least slightly
resembling some of the filmmakerís earlier works, the disappointing second half finds Akin straying a little too far
from his comfort zone for my blood. Thereís a lot to like right off the bat, beginning with the fantastic cast,
headlined by co-writer Bousdoukos, who makes Zinos as likeable and sympathetic as possible in a surprisingly
more demanding role than it sounds like on paper. The always-excellent Bleibtreu (Das Experiment, Munich)
making the brotherly aspect of his relationship with Zinos believable and oozing his usual charm during every scene
heís in. We donít see enough of ‹nel (Head-On), but when he is on screen he steals every minute. The rest of the
ensemble is quite good (other than the slightly annoying Roggan), and can never be even slightly held accountable
for any of the filmís shortcomings.
The few problems lie in the comedic elements, especially near the end of the film, which teeter a little too close to
the edge of pure slapstick for the filmís good. While it never gets too ridiculous, certain events almost compromise
the excellent character development thatís occurred up to this point. Fortunately, director Faith Akin keeps things
just sturdy enough for the story to remain engaging despite these missteps. This is far from his best film, but it just
might be the one, to date, that is his most accessible, and, more importantly, worthy of numerous repeat viewings.
Itís also, easily, Akinís most fun, light-hearted effort, but, then again, his previous films were about as dramatic and
visceral as they come. I have a feeling that, when his filmography is complete, Soul Kitchen will be seen as a
pivotal turning point in the career of an amazing filmmaker.
The DVD contains a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video presentation that features strong, detailed images
throughout. A bright, vivid color scheme is always in play, with no glaring flaws or blemishes to drag the transfer
down in the slightest. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is one of the better lossy tracks Iíve heard in quite some time. Itís
best moments occur when the filmís excellent soundtrack is blaring throughout the sound field with great songs
adding a little something extra to the proceedings. Dialogue is always crystal clear and well-integrated into the
overall mix. The only extras are the trailer for Soul Kitchen and a very nice, 35-minute making of piece that gives
us a surprisingly great deal of insight into the making of the film.