When a farce doesn’t feel like a farce and just feels like life, then the film is completely working. The latest film from German director Fatih Akin (Head-On) is a delightful comedy centered around a restaurant owner named Zinos whose life is constantly being tested.
It’s just the little things originally. He has a bit of his back ache; his brother Illias needs a job so he can be out on parole; an old childhood friend keeps bugging him about the Soul Kitchen; his new cook is a bit of a snob; he’s behind on his taxes; his girlfriend, Nadine, got a job in Shanghai and wants him to travel out there. Life is composed of all of these miniature conflicts and the real story is how they all come together.
The screenplay by Akin and Adam Bousdoukos, who is also the star of the film, is so smart by just letting everything be organic and fun. It is not structured in the usual path of resolution or comedic breakdown. The friction is allowed to ebb and flow in a way that is so much fun. All of the actors have the right chemistry with each other that saves time on worthless exposition.
While still being comedic, Akin has the camera still place everything with the highest stakes possible. The shots are composed so impressively that works within the elements of the farce. Just like the complex nature of the script, each frame masterfully aligns the characters into their perfect positions and centers the movement around them like an axis.
Just like Zinos is trying to achieve with his Soul Kitchen, the tone of the film really means everything. The music and the look isn’t of a heightened Germany, but of the fun and danger we have in this reality. The only time that slips is a few questionable moments of slapstick that are fun but just seem to be in the wrong comedy.
The DVD is awfully bare, but it does have one great bonus feature. The making-of featurette is well produced. It bounces from an informal interview between Akin and Bousdoukos to while they are filming the movie. A few of the cast members are fun to talk to and it’s exciting to see the evolution of a scene. The biggest problem with the DVD is that the synopsis on the back gives away things that happen in the final 30 minutes. Also they have a plot statement in there that isn’t true at all. Avoid reading it.
The film has done well at a number of film festivals including Venice and Toronto. It even made the list of Best Foreign Films on this year’s National Board of Review. Yet, it still isn’t making enough waves in America. This is such a shame because this movie completely works.
Film: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps