(Corazón International) Fusing together the culinary spectacle of shows such as Top Chef with in-jokes about hipsters and slapstick comedy, German director Fatih Akin has taken a decidedly… different turn with his new film. Focusing on goofy comedy as opposed to the oodles of self-mutilation and angst that populates his other popular film, Head-On — which has a moderate-sized following in the States — Soul Kitchen is friggin’ weird.
Greek/German 20-something Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) runs a diner-esque restaurant in the industrial neighborhood of Williamsburg (nudge-nudge) in Hamburg. All is well until Zinos decides to hire a gourmet chef to run the restaurant, and the patrons, who prefer their food fried as opposed to flame broiled, boycott the restaurant. To make matters worse, the German equivalent of the IRS is on his tail about some tax mistakes, and his girlfriend is leaving him to go to China for a journalism job. You can guess how this all ends.
Akin’s comedy is charming and goofy, and he blends the serious stuff and the lewd humor with skill, though, unfortunately, some of the jokes fall flat. Where it does succeed, however, is style. Mixing a decidedly funky soundtrack (’70s ahoy!) and some fancy-schmancy camera work, Soul Kitchen feels weirdly like a grindhouse flick at times (see: drunken funkadelic orgy dinner party) and oddly sobering at other times (see: homeless character squatting in industrial loft).
The whole affair wraps up very neatly — perhaps a bit too much so — making the film’s somewhat mundane plot devices shine through all the tasty food and psychedelic sexual encounters. One might wish Akin had the balls to end the film on a darker note — and given how the film rocks back and forth from light to dark, it wouldn’t be all that inappropriate. Given that Soul Kitchen falls easily under the moniker “doofy as sh*t,” I suppose I can let it slide.
Why We Like It: goofy and charming, a mix of light and dark humor, stylish camera work, funky soundtrack