German-Turkish director Fatih Akin's time-jumping dramas (Head On, Edge of Heaven) usually take viewers to a sad corner of human relationships, where good is affirmed, but only at some devastating cost. Now, in this ensemble comedy set in rainy Hamburg, Akin takes a break: Not only does the slim story travel in a straight line, but it's all-over feel-good!
Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos, who co-wrote the script), a German of Greek origin, runs a funky café named Soul Kitchen. While he pines about his girlfriend moving to Shanghai and suffers through a back injury, his ne'er-do-well brother needs a work-release job and a scheming erstwhile school pal sets his sights on Zinos' real estate. These tribulations are played for laughs, with some set-ups verging on cartoonish. But Zinos is a likable fellow, and the film has a shaggy looseness that at least keeps the predictable plot afloat.
As always, Akin depicts contemporary Germany as a diverse place, with various cultures (as well as their cuisines and music) intersecting. It may always be raining and the rent may be due, but the universal pleasures of friends, food and a toe-tapping song prevail. In German, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Oct. 22. Harris