In Bagdad Cafe (1987) Director Percy Adlon shows that you can give an engaging film with just 2 main characters, and only one setting – of a run-down motel off the highway. It is a familiar and simplest of stories, yet being told pleasantly, it impresses you.
When a West German lady tourist Mrs Jasmin, after a fight with her husband, checks-in herself in a shabby gas station and restaurant (Bagdad Cafe) she makes best of the situation for herself and the place. The owner of the place, Mrs Brenda is struggling to keep the place from falling, with no help from her useless husband, she needs to take off her son, a daughter and her grandkid – basically a deadly combination of a dilapidated place and a dysfunctional family. Mrs Jasmin starts with cleaning the whole place and throwing away all the junk, then she helps with running the restaurant, and later her magic show pulls in the crowd and the cash. Each of the supporting characters gets no formal introduction, yet we are able to understand and relate to them easily – whether it is the old painter who is madly falling in love with Mrs Jasmin, the young daughter of Mrs Brenda who is drifting aimlessly, or the barrister of the cafe who seems to have given up any hope in life or the young lad who pitches a tent nearby and plays with boomerangs. Fine acting by Marianne Sägebrecht as Mrs Jasmin and C. C. H. Pounder as Brenda. A good film to watch.