After his tragic drama The Edge of Heaven (2007), German writer-director Fatih Akin does a 180-degree turn with this exuberant restaurant comedy. Akin was born in Hamburg to Turkish parents, and like his more serious movies, this one is preoccupied with cross-cultural tensions in a fast-moving world: the hero, a scruffy Greek restaurant owner (the appealing Adam Bousdoukos), reluctantly stays behind in Hamburg when his lily-white girlfriend (Pheline Roggan) flies off to Shanghai for a teaching job, and their periodic visits on Skype hardly compensate for the loss of their grooving sex life. Meanwhile, his crummy cafe explodes into the hottest restaurant in town when he hits on a novel formula: vintage American soul music plus haute cuisine prepared by an irascible master chef (Birol Unel). Akin perfectly captures the antic pace, eccentric personalities, and fickle fortunes of the restaurant game, and his vision of the Soul Kitchen as an all-night bacchanal is irresistible. In German and Greek with subtitles.
NR • 1 hour 39 min • 2009