Typically when we see women in film’s about organized crime, they are usually there in the role of doting wife, or the mistress. Now, while The Kitchen starts out that way, it’s far from the reality of what the main characters of Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) end up with. After a job gone bad lands their husbands in prison, and no one is looking out for them like they said they would, the trio of mob wives struggle to make ends meet without their men. However, when they go to the man in charge, Little Jackie (Myk Watford), he tells the women to be happy with whatever he chooses to give them and to get lost (of course, there was a lot more swearing involved).
This is the breaking point for Kathy, Ruby and Claire. The trio decides that they need to take matters into their own hands and do whatever it takes to put a stop to Little Jackie’s control of Hell’s Kitchen, and to make something of their own. The ladies do this at whatever cost, and in their bid to control ‘the Kitchen’, their already rocky relationship with Jackie gets worse, and as the territory that the trio have expands, they are soon noticed by Italian mafia boss, Alfonso Coretti (Bill Camp). Whether he becomes a hindrance to the women or a partner-in-crime, well you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out. Of course, while all this is happening, the watchful eye of the FBI is never far away in the form of Agent Silvers (Common) and Agent Martinez (E.J. Bonilla).
With troubles surrounding them from every street corner and new enemies coming out of the woodwork every day, Kathy, Ruby and Claire have to do more than just watch their backs – this is where Gabriel O’Malley (Domhnall Gleeson) enters the fray. Hell’s Kitchen is a brutal place and if they cannot protect it and themselves, who knows what kind of hell might break loose.
Based on a DC Vertigo comic series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, the film adaptation of The Kitchen was written and directed by Andrea Berloff. For Berloff’s directorial debut, The Kitchen was a good start. As I haven’t read the comic books the film was based on, I went into the movie without any prior knowledge of the characters or plot, minus whatever I’d seen in the trailer. All I was expecting was a mob drama and that is what I got. Sure, the film has some formulaic elements that are present in other organized crime flicks, but I don’t think that really hurt the movie as a whole. If you can deal with it in other mob films, it shouldn’t bother you in The Kitchen.
The trio of McCarthy, Haddish and Moss is a great one. All three actresses are great in their respective roles and whether they shared scenes together or apart, they brought something special to the film. They were believable as women no one ever believed would take charge, but took their destinies into their own hands and made an empire greater than the ones that came before it. The film doesn’t shy away from being graphic as violence was just part of ‘the life’, and touched on racism, domestic violence and infidelity experienced by the main characters from the people who were meant to be their ‘family’.
The strength of The Kitchen lies in the fact that it’s a mob movie that focuses on the female perspective; something that’s not often seen in other movies in the same genre. The characters know that they cannot and will not rely on their husbands who’ve been locked up, and carve out a path of their own – albeit, a potentially dangerous one. But the best thing about that, is that this doesn’t deter our protagonists. Despite everyone believing they’re unfit or incapable of running the business, Kathy, Ruby and Claire do just that and are better at it than the men who came before them. What they’re doing for themselves, their families and their neighbourhoods is a necessary evil, despite what it may or may not cost them in the end. It’s about time that sh*t is getting done in Hell’s Kitchen, and who better than three badass women to make sure everything is running smoothly. Proving the doubters and haters wrong, the trio set out on a journey that might end badly for them, however they tackle the adventure head on regardless.
Serving as a reminder to listen Black women, and that mothers should never be messed with, this film certainly won’t be for everybody (and I’m sure it will annoy and/or anger those with fragile male egos). However, The Kitchen is worth the watch for the performances alone, and the twists and turns experienced throughout the movie. If you’re interested in a graphic story that has women taking charge, you should definitely check out The Kitchen.
The Kitchen hits theaters this Friday!