Soul Kitchen

Rated 4.0

Lightening the heavy heart he wore on his sleeve for 2007’s The Edge of Heaven, exalted German-Turkish writer-director Fatih Akin here proffers the ensemble restaurant-business comedy as metaphor for a new, middle-European multiculturalism. Co-writer Adam Bousdoukos plays the adorably slovenly manager of a rustic Hamburg warehouse-cum-cafe, trying to scale up his dying business by hiring a temperamental, knife-throwing Gypsy chef (Birol Ünel). It escalates from there, adding characters and straining sometimes for familiar signifiers of farce, but those brief notes of falsity are made up for by the absence of cynicism, the presence of vintage American funk music and Akin’s clear affinity for the unpretentiously hip bohemian culture in which he grew up. Protective observers of the director’s filmography may discount Soul Kitchen as immoderate and unserious, but being so rangy and humane and alive is exactly what makes it good.