Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish
Director: Andrea Berloff
Running Time: 103 mins
The Kitchen is an American film about the wives of three New York mobsters who, after their husbands are sent to prison, take the reigns over the neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen, running the area with a stronger grip than anyone before.
A largely underwhelming mob movie, The Kitchen really struggles to captivate the imagination as either an original take on the classic mafia tale, a modern comic book adaptation, or an uplifting feminist tale.
While the movie does a nice job with its set and costume design, landing you comfortably in late 1970s New York City, there’s little else that really makes The Kitchen stand out as a fresh vision of the mob movie, with a story that feels frustratingly similar to the modern thriller Widows.
Unlike Widows, which had a lot of emotional depth to it, however, The Kitchen doesn’t have much to say beyond its central premise. After the three women see their husbands sent down, they rather easily get control of the local mafia, and start to run the area with an iron fist.
That’s about it for at least an hour, and while a little bit of action and deceit in the final act brings a degree of intrigue and stakes to the table, it’s almost too little, too late, with The Kitchen having done little to stake its claim as a genuinely original mob movie.
The lead performances are some of the film’s better points, with Elisabeth Moss in particular really impressing as the most unstable of the three women, and whose new lease on life as a mob boss completely transforms her character from frustrated housewife to a confident, almost psychotic woman.
Alongside Moss, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish are both fine, although neither is as entertaining or charismatic as in their best comedy performances.
And that’s another thing that proves a little disappointing about The Kitchen – a lack of humour. Simply having comedic actresses in the lead roles doesn’t mean the movie has to be wall-to-wall jokes, but even the grittiest of mob movies have funny, dark humour throughout.
The screenplay here, however, doesn’t have the spark or the charisma to even try for any genuinely funny jokes, with a few moments of good dark humour overshadowed by what is otherwise a rather low-energy story.
So, despite its attempts to offer something fresh to a tried and tested genre, The Kitchen proves a frustrating and underwhelming watch throughout, failing to use its talented leads to its advantage, and struggling to really keep you enthralled from the start. And that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2 overall.