The Kitchen

  • Crime drama; Cert R16, contains violence, domestic violence and offensive language; 1hr 42mins
  • Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Bill Camp, Margo Martindale, Domhnall Gleeson, Common, Brian d’Arcy James
  • Director: Andrea Berloff

IT’S the late 70s in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, Irish mobsters rule the streets and as the bosses have been put in the clinker for a robbery gone wrong, the wives now have to fend for themselves.

Mellissa McCarthy (Kathy), Elisabeth Moss (Claire) and Tiffany Haddish (Ruby) star in Andrea Berloff’s (Straight Outta Compton) directorial debut, taking over their husbands’ dirty work and proving woman can be just as despicable as men.

In a lot of ways, The Kitchen exudes campy, over-the-top late 70’s mob-film excellency bouncing just a few beats off parody.

I am unsure, however, if this was the intended affect.

Based on the DC Vertigo comic of the same name, this film felt like a comic book for a number of reasons; the plot lines were mismatching, the characters felt shallow and one note, and most of the time it was a jumble of narratives that the comic may have covered over a number of issues.

As the viewer we rarely get to see any kind of pay-off as the women’s success seems to come far too easily, with no storyline of struggle or pushback for what these women are trying to do, swimming upstream in a violent and male-dominated river.

The ease in which the main characters move from wife to wise guy seems like a blur, as if the editors left a few scenes on the cutting room floor, and all three women have character development that moves too quickly with the stagnant and patchy presentation in the first place.

The villainisation of Moss’ character Claire, who becomes a master at killing and disposing bodies, is harshly paralleled by the seemingly angelic “I do this work to help my community” attitude McCarthy’s character seems to maintain throughout the duration of the film, alongside a messy “I’m doing it for myself” attitude from Haddish.

I can understand Berloff’s excitement for a concept like The Kitchen, especially as it’s on the grittier end of comic book films, but the potential really stopped at the subject material and the casting of three strong female leads.

An interesting concept that potentially fell flat because of the inexperience of the director.