“We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us.” – The Joker
The Kitchen is a multilayered gangster film set from the point of view of the women left behind when things go awry and the husbands/fathers go to prison. Not able to support themselves and their loved ones financially the three main heroines decide to take matters into their own hands. This story is set during the late 70’s, a time when women were in their place at a man’s side with their mouths shut. To think of three women, one of them a black woman, rising in the now vacant mob of Hell’s Kitchen is a tale of marvelous possibilities and equally earth shattering tragedy. This is the fictional story of three women standing up for what’s theirs, and getting a bit carried away in the process.
Leading the main threesome is Melissa McCarthy as Kathy, the normally one-trick pony, and she certainly shows the hidden strengths she possesses as someone normally relegated to falling down cause she’s fat. This time around however she portrays true desire for power and the will to maintain such a lofty, back breaking burden, especially set in a man’s world. She emits confidence even when uncertainty plagues her eyes, she rarely breaks. At her side is Tiffany Haddish as Ruby and Elisabeth Moss as Claire who know the back hand of injustice all too well, just as Kathy does. They band together making an intimidating trio of murderous mobsters hell bent on maintaining the city they love, at all costs. Even when their husbands inevitably return from prison to a world that has seemingly changed everything they recognized Hell’s Kitchen to be. Loyalties will be tested.
Much like a disaster film or a boxing film, gangster films come with a certain amount of inescapable clichés. Where the freshness of a film lies within these familiar moments is in how they are handled entering these moments and leaving them. Does the story get stuck in the same things over and over again or does it skip and jump into something more unique to its overall voice. Clichés are fine as long as the voice of the film is its own, having the clichés in a more supporting capacity, to enhance rather than overwhelm. Too much CGI and a film can feel inauthentic and cheap, but the right balance of CGI work, to patch and piece together real and computerized imagery can make for a seamless final product on the screen. It works the same with the familiarities of a genre being too much creating something wholly unoriginal. If the familiar plot points work to serve the story, transitioning from the known to the surprisingly original it can pull in an audience by making them feel safe only to pull the rug out from under them.
I think the greatest strength of The Kitchen is the female led cast who bring about questions of matching the brutality of a man, for which these ladies have no issues answering with the pull of a trigger. Can they be just as ruthless as their male counterparts? Just watch and see, beware those that doubt them.
Much like the men they despise or think so little of, they themselves are not impervious to the pitfalls of such power. It can be, as they quickly learn, a heady drug that will without failure lead them down a path that will bring the most detrimental enemies into their midst, that of doubt and suspicion. As the bodies begin to pile up they start to lose sight of why they set out on this crazy endeavor in the first place. Everything was chaos when the men in their lives ran things and suddenly the women of Hell’s Kitchen are beginning to see that familiar spiral all over again.
The Kitchen is a story of taking command of one’s life but learning that as with anything in life, there is a point when too much is too much as taking command can delve into maniacal behavior if one is not careful. As humans, when are we ever careful? The cast is empowering, enigmatic, and dangerous. The story is enthralling and forceful creating exactly what you hope for in a gangster flick, the violence, the brutality of it all being so personal, the feeling of no one being safe, The Kitchen is familiar without being overly distracting about it. In the end, all the gangster machismo aside, it’s about women finding their place in a hostile world not designed with them in mind. To watch their ascension is a damn good time, if you can stomach the inordinate amount of brutal violence, committed by the prettiest faces in the room.
Rated R For: violence, language throughout and some sexual content
Runtime: 102 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, Common
Directed By: Andrea Berloff
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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