WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2019)
Director: Andrea Berloff
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d'Arcy James, Margo Martindale, Common, Bill Camp
Sounds like a new Gordon Ramsay show…
Alas, instead The Kitchen is the directorial debut of Andrea Berloff (writer of World Trade Center and Straight Outta Compton) and a story lifted from a Vertigo comic series (which was unbeknownst to me) that follows three mob wives taking care of business whilst their husbands are in the slammer. Of course, not everyone is on board with the regime change so our three heroines have more than just debt collection to worry about.
The heroines in question are Kathy (McCarthy), Ruby (Haddish) and Claire (Moss) and whilst we are meant to believe them as hard-nosed gangster wives, have sympathy for them plus be reviled by their actions, they are written very much as heroines for us to root for. As such, the message of empowerment becomes a little…well…rubbish. It’s far too in-your-face, heavy-handed and poorly written. Empowerment is wonderful, but only when it’s done correctly. Set in the grim New York suburb of Hell’s Kitchen in the late ‘70s, the filmmakers strive for a grounded, gritty, Scorsese-esque gangster movie but also conspire against themselves to prevent this from happening. It’s a crime movie that’s devoid of any real crime – at least we aren’t showing anything on screen – and the stakes are minimal. Domhnall Gleeson appears part-way through as a reclusive assassin and is probably the best part of the movie. The performances of McCarthy and Moss are solid, but Haddish falls short hugely thanks to the dialogue she is fed.
The structure is flimsy and incoherent, Berloff attempts to cram too many threads and characters in and none of it sticks. I would say this is a big missed opportunity, but there exists an opportunity to see a far better, yet similar, movie and it’s called Widows. Go and watch that. It’s what this movie strives to be but never succeeds. The Kitchen is grim, drab and utterly forgettable.
The poster is cool though...
September 6th 2019