Movie Review Monday: The Kitchen
Warner Bros. Pictures’ newest release hit theaters this weekend in the crime drama, The Kitchen. Based on the DC Vertigo comic book miniseries of the same name, the film follows three women who takeover organized crime operations in Hell’s Kitchen after their husbands are arrested by the FBI. The film was written and directed by Andrea Berloff. Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss take the lead as the wives who take over the Irish mob. The supporting cast also includes Domhnall Gleeson, Brian d’Arcy James, James Badge Dale, Margo Martindale, Common. Jeremy Bobb, and Bill Camp.
The film begins with a short introduction to each of the three women and their situations with their husbands. Kathy Brennan (McCarthy) and her husband, Jimmy, have two kids. Claire Walsh (Moss) is abused by her husband, Rob, and Ruby O’Carroll (Haddish) has a strained relationship with her husband, Kevin, and his mother. One night the men attempt to rob a convenience store, but they are apprehended by the FBI. Their husbands are sentenced to three years in prison, and while the other leaders of the Irish mob promise to take care of them, the amount of money they receive is not enough to live on. The women despair over how to improve their situations, but an opportunity opens up when local businesses begin to complain about no longer being protected by the mob.
The Kitchen has been one of my most anticipated films since the casting choices were announced, and it pains me to say that the movie did not live up to my expectations. While the concept is intriguing, the end result is a chaotic and oddly paced film. The women take over the collections and eventually the mob at a much quicker pace than anticipated, and the film never really goes into the specifics of how they convinced so many business owners to abandon the mob members they had been in business with for so long. Some of these characters experience change and development so quickly that it suspends believability, especially in the case of Claire going from abused to killer. Several of the secondary characters are kind of tossed to the wind, and it was shocking to see no aftermath from some of the deaths of different characters. I also thought some of the motivations of the characters were convoluted, and the messaging about these women and what they’re accomplishing was confusing.
Despite these setbacks, this film does have a talented cast. Domhnall Gleeson gives a genuinely good performance as the eccentric hitman, Gabriel, and his performance stands out among the supporting characters. Some of the characters have a stronger concept than others, but the three leads do give convincing performances. Tiffany Haddish gives a good performance in this vastly different role for her, and she captures Ruby’s more intense moments well. It was no surprise to see Elisabeth Moss excel at the vulnerable and strong moments in Claire’s story, and Melissa McCarthy continues to show how adept she is at dramatic roles. These three do their best, but their performances cannot overcome some glaring problems with the characters. However, their wardrobe throughout the film is fantastic and outshines almost every other aspect.
Overall, I’m sad to say that The Kitchen is a bit of a mess. The tone and pacing are all over the place, and despite their attempts, McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss are unable to redeem the film. I wasn’t a huge fan of the editing, and some of the cinematography was too dark. It honestly has all of the ingredients in place to be a compelling film, but it is unable to live up to its potential. I wanted to be able to give a recommendation for The Kitchen, but unfortunately, I would advise you to go see something different at the theater.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.