Best of Tribeca: “Soul Kitchen”

A madcap, Marx Brothers-style restaurant comedy from the director of the German hit "The Edge of Heaven"

Topics: Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Film Access, Film Salon, Germany, Movies,

Best of Tribeca: "Soul Kitchen"Adam Bousdoukos (left) and Moritz Bleibtreu (right) as brothers Zinos and Illias Kazantsakis.(Credit: The Above Captions Were Written By The Press Office Of The Tribeca Film Festival, They Have Not Been Confirmed By The Distributor Or Any Individual From Soul Kitchen.)

Better known for serious-minded explorations of the new, multicultural Europe, like his 2007 international award-winner “The Edge of Heaven,” Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin tunes his instrument to a higher, more farcical pitch here. “Soul Kitchen” is the title of the movie (in German as well as English) and the name of the ragtag restaurant in a scruffy neighborhood of Hamburg whose anguished proprietor, Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos), can’t decide whether to stay and fight for his business or chase his wayward girlfriend to Shanghai. His ne’er-do-well brother, Illias (the terrific German actor Moritz Bleibtreu) — a mess of tics, gangster mannerisms and failed schemes — is just out of prison, and Zinos’ temperamental, haute-cuisine chef seems poorly matched to the customer base.

This sort of slam-bang Marx Brothers comedy, where the coincidences pile atop each other and almost every scene ends in chaos, isn’t necessarily Akin’s strong suit. His portrait of Hamburg as a multicultural hothouse where real estate tycoons, rock musicians, hipster entrepreneurs and grizzled German seamen collide in the same restaurant is undeniably appealing. Indeed, the clear subtext of “Soul Kitchen” is the fact that in Hamburg a Turkish-German like Akin and a Greek-German like Bousdoukos (who co-wrote the screenplay) can make a silly comedy together, while their cousins back home have a considerably more fraught relationship. (IFC Films will release “Soul Kitchen” later in the year.)

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