Friday, September 10, 2010

Soul Kitchen

"Soul Kitchen" has passages with one image in front of the other without much meaning. It is for the most part narratively incoherent, utterly disjointed, cliched, ended like a storybook (however appealingly), as well as (seemingly) condensed. These things sabotage its chances of success. The film is (as my friend and others said) endearing, and this is a factor that saves it somewhat, but it doesn't make it a good film. I understand director Fatih Akin's choice to make something other than "The Edge of Heaven," i.e. a comedy instead of a drama, and in theory it seems like it might work, but, assuming this is how an Akin comedy would look like, I think if he wants to partake in successful ventures, he should go back to what he was doing.

This film is about Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos). He has a food establishment known as "Soul Kitchen." He serves food people want, which isn't quality food, but comfort food. He doesn't particularly like this food he serves, but he needs money. He's very into music, as evidenced by the film's soundtrack, which continues pretty much nonstop throughout the film. He has a girlfriend, named Nadine (Pheline Roggan), who goes to China and wants him to come, too, although Zinos feels tied to his restaurant and will not leave. He also has a imprisoned brother, Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu), who tries to convince Zinos to give him a job to "go through the motions" (not very responsible guy, we are to assume), alongside the waitress who starts to become the object of Illias' affection, Lucia (Anna Bederke). There's also Thomas Neumann (Wotan Wilke Möhring), who Zinos was in 4th grade with and who schemes to pry Soul Kitchen away from Zinos.

Zinos goes to a dinner with his girlfriend at a high-end restaurant where the chef, Shayn (Birol Ünel) has a breakdown when one of the customers complains about the food and is fired. Zinos makes him his chef afterwards, which pisses off his customers, as they don't want fancy food: THEY WANT THEIR PIZZA! So, Zinos instead finds a new crowd, musicians and hipsters, who will eat up just about everything, including pricey, rich stuff.

This is a disastrously structured film, and there's no way around that. That's the great inhibitor, although there are others as well (cliches being one). It was dashed off, not just (as IMDb user BOUF says) "fast-paced." I direct your attention to this dialogue, which occurs when Zinos is taking a smoke and Shayn is standing up on a high ledge, just having been fired:

Zinos: "Your food was great!"
Shayn: "Do you have a job for me?"

There's no evidence in the film to say that Shayn has ever even heard of Zinos. So what the freak? It sounds like the beginning and end of an exchange with the middle cut out of it. Why wouldn't one just finish the scene? Scheduling issues? This is completely amateurish, obviously constructed this way to expediently advance the plot of the film. Akin should be above this. And it's sad that he isn't. For this among other things, "Soul Kitchen" is a misfire. C

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