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Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18

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  1. Dec 10, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "Soul Kitchen" takes its name from a Doors song that appeared on the Jim Morrison-led band's debut album in 1967. It's also the name of a "restaurant"(greasy spoon is more like it) whose owner Zinos Kazantsakis(Adam Bousodoulos), the proverbial man in a rut, shows no outward sign of awareness concerning the name appropriation, but given that the movie is about opening doors to bigger and better things, there's a good chance that the filmmaker is cognizant of the wildly popular late-sixties American band. As his track record shows, the guy loves music; in the process, giving a shout-out to Matt Johnson of The The("Slow Emotion Replay" is referred to) in his second film "Head-On"(2004), which in itself, just so happens to be the title of a Jesus & Mary Chain rocker(subsequently covered by The Pixies). Catering to a clientele who subsists on nothing but low-quality fare(practically everything at Soul Kitchen is re-heated and oily), comfort food for the German working class, the first door that opens for Zinos is food-related, when the diner in Wilhelmsburg(the industrial part of Hamburg) undergoes a revamping of their menu(switching from fast food to haute cuisine items), as the result of a fortuitous meeting with a hot-headed chef named Shayne(Birol Unel), who the restaurateur sees getting fired after the gourmet cook chastises a paying customer for requesting that his cold tomato soup("gazpacho") be heated. Akin(pun intended) to Bob Dylan's performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where the Woody Guthrie devotee angered his base by rocking out with juice running through his guitar, Shayne too enacts the role of a confrontational artist when he refuses to give the patrons their pizzas, hamburgers, and other artery-clogging edibles, but instead, alienates them with food that's louder, bolder, and new. Just before Dylan and his band tore up the joint with a torrid rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone", somebody from the audience yells, "Judas!" and likewise, that's the name on the tips of the tongues belonging to all the "culinary racists" and "uncultured peasants" who think that Zinos went bourgeoisie on them. He takes Soul Kitchen in a new direction(a club, which incidentally, features live rock music) and becomes more popular than ever. The second door that opens for Zinos is love-related, in which the proprietor makes the monumental decision to follow his girlfriend to Shanghai, and during the interim before his departure to the Far East, he hunts for a permanent replacement, settling on Ilias(Moritz Bleibreur), the wayward brother who just got out of jail, by default, only after the waitress turns his offer of management down. This second door, however, starts to swing the other way, slowly but surely, before it eventually slams shut on his face. At the airport, Zinos stumbles upon his China girl from a moving walkway(the walkway being vaguely reminiscent of the opening scene in Mike Nichols' "The Graduate"), who is back in Germany for her grandmother's funeral. The watershed 1967(same release year as The Doors song) film that made Dustin Hoffman famous worldwide echoes more strongly in a forthcoming scene where Zinos crashes, then disrupts a funeral(as opposed to a wedding) after he sees Nadine's companion grab her hand while the priest presides over the burial. Whereas Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson(Katherine Ross) end up on a bus to nowhere, Nadine knows where she's going, while Linos will continue to ride the same Hamburg subway cars, the same Hamburg buses. Like the youthful twenty-something young man portrayed so effortlessly by Hoffman, Zinos feels the same disaffection and frustration, but he's much older than the graduate, and yet he lives a bohemian existence, surrounding himself with ex-convicts, artists, and squatters, as if the twenty-first century was an extension of the sixties. Since he made Soul Kitchen, maybe he's Jim, a version of Jim that lights a fire in his kitchen sink and almost burns the apartment house down. "Soul Kitchen" is about doors. They open. They close. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 70
    Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin isn't exactly known for slapstick, so Soul Kitchen has the feel of a palate cleanser. After the hard-edged drama of "Head-On" and "The Edge of Heaven," this boisterous comedy milling with scruffy misfits goes down more easily than an oyster on the half shell.
  2. 50
    There are moments of fun (an aphrodisiac-laced dessert, for example), but generally the humor seems warmed-over.
  3. 63
    The only reason Soul Kitchen is being marketed as an "art film" in the United States is because it is subtitled. On merit, this is as mainstream as one can imagine - a generic, feel-good plot that's fit for a sit-com. Call it My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.