In 1970’s Hell’s Kitchen, Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) are all married to members of a criminal gang. When their husbands are arrested one night and sent to prison, the Irish mob promises to look after them. However, they don’t. Left to fend for themselves, the three women decide to take over the mob’s operation, but how long can they last until they are found out?
... a decently plotted story finds itself trapped inside a woeful rendition.
Andrea Berloff’s ‘The Kitchen’ is a crime where a decently plotted story finds itself trapped inside a woeful rendition. Tonally deaf and dramatically underplayed, her debut crime drama does a double disservice to both the script and its cast.
Whereas Melissa McCarthy’s performance in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me’ opened doors to her dramatic potential, in ’The Kitchen’ her one note Kathy becomes a floral apologist with no character arc to speak of. Tiffany Haddish is reasonably solid, however it is Elisabeth Moss and Domhnall Gleeson whose performances belong in an altogether different (and much better) movie. Substantially superior than their lightly-sketched roles allow, their performances commendably pull at the comedically irreverent tones that Berloff has set.
For a crime story where its three main leads ultimately excel at organised crime, there is no emotional redress to their later activities. People are shot, assassinated and simply killed-for-practice and the director washes these away with a wave of comedy drama. So, when things become a bit more consequential in act three, the damage is already done and any affection you might felt is cheaply pawned for an indifferent ending.
In watching ‘The Kitchen’, you will probably get hit by a sudden realisation. The words are coming out of the wrong actor’s mouths; the camera is the wrong person’s hands; and the director has misunderstood the source material they are delivering. Treated instead with a solidly dramatic cast, much realistic direction and some mournful cinematography, ‘The Kitchen’ could have been a contender. Instead it has become one way ticket to palookaville, taking all its potential along with it.
If ifs and ands were pots and pans, then sadly you would have ‘The Kitchen’. This is a film permanently set to “simmer”.0