THE KITCHEN MOVIE REVIEW 2019
Story: When their mobster husbands are sent to jail for three years Kathy, Ruby and Claire are left to their own devices. They decide to take things in their own hands and turn into underworld gang-lords as a means of survival.
Review: ‘The Kitchen’ is adapted from the DC Vertigo comic book series by the same name. The premise of the film promises to be an interesting one, even though it is strikingly similar to Steve McQueen’s 2018 film ‘Widows’. What’s more there are three solid actresses to draw from – Melissa McCarthy as Kathy, Elizabeth Moss as Claire and Tiffany Haddish as Ruby. And each one’s life is very different from the other– Kathy is the loving mother and doting wife, Claire is physically abused by her husband, and Ruby’s life is stuck between a caustic husband and an even more caustic mother-in-law. But saddled with dull, lacklustre writing and direction, ‘The Kitchen’ is an overall letdown. Sure, the setting is New York’s Hell’s Kitchen in 1978 but you can’t be blamed at times if you think if you’re watching a parody film on that era, with all the possible clichés thrown in.
Even the character graphs are unconvincing especially Claire’s who turns from being abused and scared to a cold blooded killer in a matter of minutes. In fact, the crux of the film, the manner in which the three ladies suddenly transform into these seemingly cool and ruthless mobsters themselves, calling the shots is delivered without any nuances. Though a couple of dialogues stand out and a romantic subplot just about makes the cut, the screenplay on the whole is mostly predictable and doesn’t hook you. In fact, the plot conflict of what happens when the three husbands return earlier than expected could have been turned into an interesting play of power, but it’s nearly at the end and dealt with in a matter of minutes.Also, at no point does one feel totally involved with the characters, even though there are a few double crosses to rustle up a couple of surprises and many bloody shoot outs added to the mix.
‘The Kitchen’ perhaps intended to be a rousing film on women power and expression, but it barely touches that chord. What’s left is a film that doesn’t engage.
The Kitchen is a 2019 American crime drama film written and directed by Andrea Berloff, in her directorial debut. It is based on the Vertigo comic book miniseries of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. The film stars an ensemble cast, led by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss as the wives of Irish mobsters, who take over organized crime operations in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen in the late 1970s, after the FBI arrests their husbands. The film also features Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, Jeremy Bobb, Margo Martindale, Common, and Bill Camp in supporting roles.
Produced by New Line Cinema, Bron Creative, and Michael De Luca Productions, the film was theatrically released in the United States on August 9, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received mostly negative reviews from critics, who criticized the convoluted plot.
In Hell’s Kitchen, circa 1978, three women are married to members of the Irish mob: Kathy Brennan and her husband, Jimmy, have two kids. Jimmy is kind and wants to leave the mob. Ruby O’Carroll is married to Kevin, who’s the son of Helen and heir to the mob empire. Claire Walsh is married to Rob, who is abusive towards her. One night while robbing a convenience store, FBI Agents Silvers and Martinez, who have been trailing them, bust them, and the three men are sentenced to three years in prison.
While Kevin is in prison, Little Jackie becomes the head of the mob. He tells the three wives that he will ensure their financial comfort, but, gives them each a tiny pittance. Kathy can barely afford to feed her kids. Claire, who volunteers at a homeless shelter, is attacked by one of the homeless men. The women ask Jackie for more money, but, he viciously denies them. Kathy tries to find a job, but, no one will hire her because she’s a mother. The women are at a loss for what to do next. Shortly thereafter, they are told that, despite all the local businesses paying protection fees to the mob, they have seen very little results under Little Jackie. The women seize the opening, using Kathy’s cousin Duffy and friend Burns as their enforcers. They begin collecting protection fees and helping out the neighborhood, making a huge profit and becoming beloved in the community.
When Little Jackie finds out, he has his enforcers severely beat Duffy and Burns, who try to end their association with the women. They confront Little Jackie and declare that they are in charge now. Little Jackie assures them they’ll be dead by morning. The women sleep with guns under their beds, but, nothing happens. The next morning, while Claire is taking out the trash, Jackie assaults her in the alley and begins to attempt to rape her, but, he is shot in the head by Gabriel O’Malley, a former Irish mob enforcer and war vet who had been in hiding until Ruby called him. He has always loved Claire. Gabriel shows the ladies how to dispose of a body and, with Jackie out of the way, the women begin running the neighborhood, with Gabriel as their chief enforcer. Gabriel and Claire begin a relationship, and Gabriel teaches Claire how to kill. She tracks down the homeless man who attacked her and shoots him in the head.
When local workers complain that they are not getting the construction contracts on buildings being built nearby, the women promise to correct their situation. They meet with the rabbi who is in charge of the property, but, he refuses to hire union workers. The women offer him protection. He explains that he already pays protection to the Brooklyn Italian mafia. The women arrange for him to be intimidated until relents. The women are ordered to meet with Alfonso Coretti, the head of the Italian mafia, who is furious that they have taken business from him. But he recognizes that they have power, and cuts a deal with them: some of his Italian men work on the site too, and the ladies kick back some of their profits – the women refuse at first, but Coretti tells them that he has made arrangements for the women’s husbands to be released early. He knows when the husbands return, the women’s place in power will be threatened, and he will support and protect the women. Realizing he’s right, the women agree. In exchange, Ruby demands more area of the city be under the women’s control, and Coretti agrees.
Before the husbands are set to be released, the women do everything they can to shore up their power. Ruby takes Helen out to dinner, and as Helen berates and insults her, Ruby shoves her downstairs, killing her. When the husbands get out, there is tension and struggling for power. Kevin thinks he’s in charge now and wants to cut the women out, Jimmy is concerned and wants Kathy to quit, and Rob is furious to find that Claire has left him and is living with Gabriel. He comes to her new place and hits her, twice, and she shoots him and disposes of his body. Kathy is horrified, and the three women are summoned by Coretti, who tells them that he has heard that a hit has been placed on them by members of their own gang. Kathy doesn’t want to believe it, but Ruby offers them more money and asks the mafia to kill Kevin, Duffy, Burns, Jimmy, and a young member named Colin. Kathy is horrified, telling them Jimmy had nothing to do with it and that Colin is just a kid and to spare him. The deal is made. Kevin, Burns, and Duffy are all executed. Colin breaks into Claire and Gabriel’s apartment. Claire is shot and killed by Colin, who Gabriel kills in anger afterward.
After Claire’s funeral, things are tense between Ruby and Kathy. Ruby and Gabriel feel it’s Kathy’s fault Claire is dead. Kathy feels guilty and sad, but is trying to figure out how to keep running the business with Ruby. Jimmy angrily keeps telling her he wants her to quit. While confronting Ruby, Kathy realizes that Ruby has been taking some of their collection money and paying off Agent Silvers to keep them out of trouble. Ruby explains that she keeps them out of trouble, and in fact, set up their husbands to be caught on the night they were originally arrested. She knew that with the husbands gone, there would be an opening for her to move up in the world, and take power as a black woman. This was the only way. She even had Silvers murder Gonzalez to protect them, and she’s been gaining more and more territory. When Kathy goes to pick up her kids, she finds they aren’t there – panicked she begins searching for them, but gets a call from Coretti – the kids are with him. She goes to the meeting and finds that her kids are safe, and that Jimmy brought them there – he met with Coretti to ask for a deal to cut Kathy out. Kathy is horrified that he would put their kids lives in danger for his ego – she leaves him there, and Jimmy is executed by the mafia.
At Jimmy’s funeral, Kathy’s father, who has constantly been telling her how disappointed he is in her for getting into the mob, tells her he’s proud of her for protecting her kids. Kathy says she did it for herself. Ruby tells Kathy that a vendor hasn’t been making their payments, and asks her to meet her there. Kathy goes, and finds that Ruby is waiting with Gabriel to kill Kathy – but Kathy has brought all of the local Irishmen to back her up. She tells Gabriel she loved Claire too, and Gabriel admits he only got back into this life because of Claire and leaves. Kathy tells Ruby that she needs Ruby to keep running the uptown area they’ve gotten, and Ruby needs her to keep running the Irish in The Kitchen. The two women reach an understanding, and continue on, the most powerful women in New York.