A trip to the industrial neighbourhood of Port Kells in Surrey, BC is needed to experience Salam Kahil’s capricious if not salacious behaviour in The Sandwich Nazi. Yes, the allusions to Seinfeld are there, and if the two had to be compared, Kahil is funnier. The size of the sandwiches he makes must be noted. They look huge and to finish it in one sitting must be a feat!
Kahil, an immigrant from Lebanon, is the focus in director-producer Lewis Bennett’s documentary. He was once a male escort and while the first act spends too much time on his escapades, thankfully all that changes halfway when viewers learn there’s more to him than meets the eye.
One enduring aspect of this movie is when Bennett explores how Kahil helps others. This deli-operator has been there, and he understands how difficult life is to survive. He left the old country because he could not deal with his family anymore. He struggled to get where he is, and to see that not everyone can do the same makes him very compassionate. One of his humanitarian efforts include handing out his signature sandwiches to the homeless living around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. While a few people featured does not seem to look that way, this detail is hard to tell on who is truly struggling to make ends meat. For Kahil, he does not care who is waiting in line. He believes everyone needs a helping hand. Even he needs help to conquer his demons.
Nearly throughout the movie, he talks about his family in different tones. The spotlight for this film is when he travels home, unsure if any fences can be mended between him and his family. Kahil becomes a very different person here, and that’s when this film truly shines. Despite this man’s vulgarity throughout this film, the feelings he expresses in this later act shows a side not often seen by the people who frequent his shop. This movie is not really about the food he serves up, but rather the feelings he needs to express to the world.
3½ Blokes out of 5