the kitchen

DIRECTOR: Andrea Berloff (debut)
starring:
melissa mccarthy, tiffany haddish, elisabeth moss, and domhall gleeson

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★

The wives of New York gangsters in Hell's Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands' rackets after they're locked up in prison.

I grew up surrounded by a matriarchy. A great - grandmother, grandmothers, Mum, and her sisters. Some grew businesses, one led an NGO at a national level, one wrote, one sailed yachts at a competitive level and all while raising kids. And there was no question whatsoever: they were in charge. 

 

But it was something they never had to 'preach', that they could lead, have a career, or chose to raise a family. They just did it and no one questioned it.  

There seems to be two breeds of films out there these days. Some show you empowered women crushing it, the other tells you how women should be crushing it without really showing how. Unfortunately it's mainly preachin' in this kitchen. 

Between 8th Ave. and the Hudson River, the Irish mafia runs 20 blocks of a tough New York City neighbourhood known as Hell's Kitchen. But for mob wives Kathy, Ruby and Claire, things are about to take a dramatic and radical turn. When the FBI sends their husbands to prison, the three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.

Narratively The Kitchen is pretty solid. Its plot is consistent and engaging. But its just all a little bland really. There's no real flare, creativity, risks, or stamp on this that would distinguish this film from any other. The twists and jump kills are pulled with precision, but their aftermath is barely felt, explained, or dwelt on as we move to the next scene. There's no feeling of grit, vulnerability, or that anything is on the line and there should be those kind of feelings coursing through your body in this kinda movie. Its enjoyable but not particularly memorable. 

For the ensemble cast that they have gathered around this film they all give performances that you would expect from each and every one of them. Melissa McCarthy proves again why her dramatic acting should be taken seriously and turns out a terrific performance. 

As I alluded to earlier The Kitchen follows films like Captain Marvel where they preach that women can dominate life without really showing how they overcame to do so. The women of The Kitchen just kinda take over the family 'business' with no struggle whatsoever. Show us how powerful women overcome the odds and lead like Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the brilliant On the Basis of Sex or Diana Prince in the fist pump inducing Wonder Woman or the women of the fantastic Widows or countless other films. It shows the watching world that women can not only do anything they chose to do, no matter the odds, but for them to do so is perfectly normally. That will really change the conversation. That really will change our culture. 

A perfectly enjoyable film but there's more smoke than sparks in this kitchen.

★★★

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