If you're a fan of the German-born (of Turkish heritage) filmmaker, Fatih Akin, you will - like me - run not walk to see his latest creation, 'Soul Kitchen'. Akin's masterpiece is, of course, the unsurpassed Head-On [Gegen die Wand] - one of the best five movies you'll ever see. His Edge of Heaven comes very close to repeating that magic. Fans of Akin know that in those two works he delves deeply into Germany's rich and widening cultural and demographic ties with Turkey. In fact, 'Edge of Heaven' starts in Turkey and takes us back and forth across the two countries.
Here, Akin turns his storyline to another ethnic community deeply embedded into the fabric of German society: the Greeks. Adam Bousdoukos (Akin's co-writer here - he had a bit role in 'Head-On') and Moritz Bleibtreu (Baader Meinhof Complex (2pc) (Ws Sub)) play brothers Zinos and Illias Kazantsakis respectively. Zinos is the entrepreneur in the process of re-inventing his erstwhile greasy spoon restaurant. Illias is his ne'er-do-well brother who needs Zinos' support to make his terms of prison parole stick.
Unlike his two previous films, Akin displays a flair for comedy here, though - Akin being Akin - even the laughs have an edge and manic verve that gives you a product a fair pace from light, breezy Rom-Com or Judd Apatow territory. That fact is underscored when the inimitable Birol Ünel pops on to the screen as tempestuous chef, Shayn Weiss. Ünel's trademark intensity is seared into the eyeballs of anyone who's seen 'Head On.' His portrayal of Cahit Tomruk in that film was nothing short of remarkable. Ünel plays a supporting role here, but you can't take your eyes off of him any time he's on the screen. In 'Soul Kitchen,' Chef Weiss' irascible nature hardly conceals his immense talents in the kitchen.
Also good here are: Pheline Roggan as Zinos' long-time first girlfriend, Nadine; Anna Bederke as bartender/waitress/object of brothers' affection, Lucia; Wotan Wilke Möhring as over-the-top property developer/villain, Thomas Neumann; and - best of all - Catrin Striebeck as an imperious, exacting restaurant inspector. She's a unique beauty who never holds anything back on-screen.