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70 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

Soul Kitchen - food for one's spirit

8/10
Author: cry_ablaZe from United Kingdom
30 December 2009

Director Faith Akin is often called one of the most important contemporary German directors to have emerged in recent years. Soul Kitchen is Akin' highly anticipated first attempt at a genuine comedy. So far Akin has been has been more involved in the fields of drama and romance. In a recent interview he revealed he was curious to explore a more varied range of film genres which sounds like an interesting plan. In venice this year, the film was celebrated by the audiences and scored the special jury price.

The story revolves around a restaurant/club called Soul Kitchen and the troublesome life of its respectful owner Zinos. He has to overcome many struggles involving his girlfriend, his brother and the authorities. The film is set in the heart of the diverse northern German city of Hamburg, the home turf of the two scribes Faith Akin and Adam Bousdoukos.

The makers of the film call it a new take on the idea of the "Heimatfilm" - a rather preconceived loose genre which basically defines a film to have been made in the makers home country and dealing with issues relating to home and identity.

Akin described how he studied classical sketches by Charlie Chaplin and also looked at his method of working. A simple "joke" that comes off easy and natural on screen had been reworked over and over. For some of the scenes Akin admittedly said he had to shoot 30 takes before it felt right. This made him doubt his own abilities but in the end let him grow as a filmmaker and as an individual.

The result is a stellar solid performance by the entire cast. Many jokes and payoffs will unfortunately and without a doubt get lost in translation but still the timing and heartblood of the actors will still capture anyone's attention.

Akin makes use of a couple of his "regulars": Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu and the great Birol Ünel but also introduces fresh unknown blood with the two female leads Lucia Faust and Nadine Krüger.

Having just seen another film recently I noticed myself how well this film is balanced out in comparison. There is a rhythm, a beat or a harmony. The soundtrack and editing allow the plot to flow organically and let the narrative play out smoothly. Interestingly Akin once mentioned that since "Gegen die Wand" (Head On, 2004) he is inspired by the songs used in his films in a visual way and sets out a soundtrack before the filming is finished.

The film marks Akin's first shot at wider levels of improvisation. Normally, he said in an interview with a German radio station, he has the script all planned out in detail; all the actors know what their dialogues are and maybe one or two things get changed, with feedback from the people on set but this time a lot of things were left undone on purpose to grow naturally out of the situations.

What I personally enjoyed a lot about Soul Kitchen is the way in which the film addresses its urban environment. Akin took a chance to shoot in a wide range of locations, many of which such the club "Mojo" have since closed down. It attempts to capture the spirit of the city at a point in time and successfully tells an emotional, personal story.

Recommended to anyone with a passion for fresh, clever and funny stories of life and the city.

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45 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

an intelligent comedy

8/10
Author: anonaki from Greece
14 January 2010

It very rare these times to see a comedy that is not slapstick -funny (trying to extort in some ways the laughter from the audiences) but truly funny in a way that is sweet and charming. I will not talk about the director's previous work because this is a completely new genre for him, and in any case this is not an overall overview of his films. This one stands alone as an example for some people in Hollywood. It is not funny because it exploits some racial stereotypes (no mousaka here) but because it creates a subtle caricature of situations that many of us have experienced (i.e. the one with the tax collectors). The script is very smart and full of reversals of fate that keep the spectators on their toes, the main characters are interesting and the acting wonderful... And because no one mentioned the soundtrack...It is truly unique..Too bad that many of the songs are in Greek and the deeper meaning of the lyrics and their connection to the plot is lost in translation. A must see film for everyone that wants to see a feel-good movie with an actual plot..

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23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

'Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.'

8/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
4 September 2010

Faith Akin is best known for his dark, serious films ('Head On', 'The Edge of Heaven', 'Short Sharp Shock', 'Crossing the Bridge: The Sounds of Istanbul', etc) so it is somewhat surprising to find he has such a deft touch for comedy. SOUL KITCHEN languished for a while before Akin decided that 'life is not only about pain and introspection', and so he turned his rather formidable talents to creating this new film - a comedy about food, family and gentrification. He co-wrote the script with star Adam Bousdoukos in a manner that mirrors his other works: people from other countries (Akin is Turkish raised in Germany, Bousdoukos is Greek raised in Germany) can assimilate without losing the unique treasured aspects of their ethnicity.

The setting is Hamburg where Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) owns a grungy but popular with the locals restaurant, Soul Kitchen, serving quickly prepared frozen foods to a gastronomically unsophisticated clientele. Zinos is also a romantic, struggling with his conflict to join his journalist girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan) who wants Zinos to accompany her to her latest living assignment in Shanghai, but being afraid to leave his beloved restaurant. Zinos decides to stay in Hamburg -opening the door for other factors to enter Zinos' life: he encounters a fired chef Shayn (Birol Ünel) whose cranky disposition can't hide the fact that he is a brilliant chef in need of work (Zinos hires him!), an old friend Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke Möhring) who has become a real estate entrepreneur want to buy Zinos' old building, Zinos' ne're-do-well brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu) is in prison but can get leaves if Zinos with be his patron for a work-release program, a new crowd of jazz music lovers and partygoers flood the premises, etc. All of these ingredients, including the staff of the restaurant Lucia (Anna Bederke), funky old Sokrates (Demir Gökgöl), and Lutz (Lukas Gregorowicz), blend together to produce harrowing but hilarious results. In the end the transformations of Soul Kitchen emphasize the importance of family and living a dream, and the despite the many pratfalls Zinos encounters, the changes all come out in the wash for the better.

This cast manages to exude a love for life that makes the move soar above others, despite the usual at times crude jokes and situations. It just bubbles, and a fine part of that effervescence is from the music score.

Grady Harp

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21 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Great movie, fast and fresh

9/10
Author: ilikeallmovies
22 May 2010

Great movie, fast and fresh, the kind of fun the movies are supposed to be.

The characters are real and dynamic, the sites are beautiful, interiors and exteriors, although in industrial area, they feel warm and cozy after some time.

The action never loses pace.

I am trying to find now other movies from the same director and/or lead actor.

It is refreshing in a way Guy Ritchie is, you wait for the next movie because you expect the same feeling.

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18 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A "Delicious" Movie With "Soul"

9/10
Author: ufukglr from Turkey
14 January 2010

This movie was a "delicious" movie with a "soul".l recommend this movie to everyone who would like to go to the movies just for having a 1,5 hour of fun and who needs some hope about life. This movie was the best and funniest movie of Faith Akin, l think he will be a world famous director in a couple years if he keeps to continue. The favorite three of Faith Akin (Adam Bousdoukus,Moritz Blibtreu and Birol Unel)were great again.l would like to also mention about Anna Bederke's performance, l think she was also acting great and she will be a famous movie star soon. The only thing which l can criticize is the ending of the movie, it was in compliance with the scenario however l felt that the ending was incomplete and carelessly done. The jokes and the movie itself were great and clever.l recommend this movie to everyone who would like to watch something different and delicious in the cinema.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Too much nonsense

4/10
Author: Marlon Pohl from Germany
15 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like always, Akin creates lovely characters. For a German it is fun to see Bleibtrue as a "typical German immigrant-part-time-criminal-hustler" talking the talk you'll recognize when u walk through Hamburg St. Pauli. Its just that the characters and the movie share the same problem: No deepness at all. Everything remains facile and this is why i never found a way into the movie. The story takes quiet stupid turns (contract lost, swallowing the button, dancing school fills the restaurant) that make the movie more seem like a fairytale (which would be okay if i had the feeling that is what Akin wanted). The humor in the movie is flat and predictable, some scenes id even call cheapest slapstick only kids up to 10 years could laugh at (funeral scene). The cook had a lot of potential, but is way too overdrawn...AND I STILL WONDER WHY THE HELL THERE WAS THIS ORGYSCENE ? ? ? It nearly got me leaving the cinema. What i liked was the soundtrack, the beautiful images of Hamburg and the little unimportant dialogues between certain characters. These were the only moments this movie seemed as "real" to me as Akin movies usually do.

I apologise for my English...

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

And even a kitchen has a soul...

9/10
Author: Juan Martinez from Cali, Colombia
16 April 2011

Faith Akin, the director, presents a beautiful Hamburg, creates again diverse and strong characters, in a film that returns him to the genre of comedy, and all of these surrounded with an amazing soundtrack. I enjoyed very much this film, the scenography and music is lovely, I could laugh a lot, which is not very common in the recent Akin films such as Gegen die Wand or The Edge of Heaven, which were exquisite, but in a more dramatic and touching way. This film is somehow a return to the soul of much more than a kitchen. Is a sight into the soul of music, food, purpose in life and people indeed. I highly recommend this film, especially for those who, like me, had a great time seeing Im Juli, some years ago.

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16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Nicely balanced, generous film from Germany"s most interesting director

7/10
Author: Fred Freddson from Germany
9 February 2010

With films like Against the Wall, Crossing the Bridge and The Edge of Heaven, Faith Akin has set a high aesthetic bar at which his newest work inevitably stumbles. Which is not to say that the film is a failure by any means, simply that it must be judged as a minor work in this impressive directors oeuvre.

Set in Hamburg's seedy demi-monde, the film relates the fortunes of the Soul Kitchen restaurant and its unhappy-go-lucky proprietor, with a protein-rich narrative arc from wretched normality through multiple adversities to a slightly more hopeful normality. And while the restaurant moves up-scale gastronomically the story remains comfort food throughout, providing plenty of opportunities for comic set pieces and tragi-comic misunderstandings.

What we end up with is a patchwork of scenes, connected by a narrative strand that connects property speculation, prostitution, drugs and music. None of it quite makes sense, but this is a film ruled by the heart and not the head. What it lacks in precision it makes up for in warmth.

In general the performances are impressive, and the unavoidable Moritz Bleibtreu (who seems to be compulsory casting in any German film worth its salt) is particularly engaging as the protagonist's jailbird brother, constantly swinging his prayer beads as hustles.

The film's lightness of touch is perhaps its saving grace: the music complements the story without dominating; food and cookery play a subordinate, if enjoyable role, but never do we get too bogged down in the niceties of nouvelle cuisine. And this must be the first major film in which Skype plays such a major role. Product placement perhaps but very realistically done.

Another enjoyable aspect is the way in which the interplay of cultures - Greek, Turkish, German, whatever - is handled in a no-nonsense workmanlike way. Perhaps it takes a German of Turkish extraction to do this. My feeling is that other German directors would be more sheepish in their handling of these issues.

In conclusion I'd say that the film is good, not great, and shows that Faith Akin can also make a gentle, feel-good comedy without compromising his higher aesthetic achievements.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Charming - but you need to be tuned

6/10
Author: Cinish Narayanan from United States
9 October 2012

The reason I picked this up was that I had read/heard somewhere that this had inspired the movie 'Ustad Hotel' in 'malayalam' which I had enjoyed.

Having seen excellent movies like The Trap/Troubled Water/L' Infante recently, I was not extremely impressed by this one but at the same time the movie is young and lovable.

There are some original humor sequences.You may like the movie a whole lot or the movie may not touch you at all - depending on your frame of mind while you watch this.

I liked the main protagonist of the movie. The back ache that he carries through out movie somehow aches your back as well while you watch the movie!. He goes easy on various people - letting his employees practice music in his dying restaurant , letting his tenant stay off rent , letting his brother run the business etc.That is how the main protagonist has been built.

The movie is filled with short easy sequences - a nice watch.

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14 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

If you smell, what Faith is cookin ...

7/10
Author: kosmasp
27 March 2010

You could be excused, if by hearing the title, you'd thought this is yet another "urban" comedy, starring Martin Lawrence or Ice Cube or Queen Latifah. It ain't so. While the title might be misleading (in quite a few ways), the characters in this aren't. You have finely structured people (with a cliché here and there), who seem to have their everyday problems and find a way to live with them.

Our main character has quite a few struggles to go through this movie, some of them come "back" at him (no pun intended). And while quite a few things are more than cliché (the brother and what he does towards the end, is borderline believable, even with the setup through the movie), it has quite a few nice touches to it. All in all, a warm comedy, that goes more for the heart than the brain. A nice change of pace by Faith Akin and a movie, whose flaws shouldn't hinder you enjoying it.

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