The Kitchen (2019)
R | 1h 42min | Action, Crime, Drama | 9 August 2019 (USA)
Synopsis: The wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison.
Review: You just can’t beat 1970’s New York as a backdrop for crime and drama. THE KITCHEN captures the style and grit of the Hell’s Kitchen of that time perfectly and sucks us down into the seedy mob world that ruled the area. Grand performances, a nostalgic soundtrack, and intriguing storyline make this a solid – though not error free – film.
Three wives, Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) are left in dire straights when their husbands are sent to prison. Though promised to be taken care of they are getting very little from the new boss (Myk Watford). The women decide that if they are going to be able to provide for their families they are going to have to take matters into their own hands. Once they take over the collection and day to day operation it makes them a lot of money but puts a huge strain on their lives and relationship.
The performances in this film are what elevates it from just another crime flick. Not only do the three leading ladies knock it out of the park but they are equaled by Domhnall Gleeson and Margo Martindale; in a role that we seldom see her take on. Margo will stun you in this one. Gleeson also trades his nice boy persona for a steely eyed thug. It too is note worthy.
If anyone steals the spotlight though it is Moss. I am continually enraptured – and often scared – by the intensity of her performances. Claire is a woman tired of being in an abusive relationship with no way out; until now. Claire’s transformation is warranted, justified, and often way too creepy. Yet Moss delivers it with such ease and organic believability.
I love how the film looks and sounds. At times I felt like I could even smell it. That sounds weird but I am not going to erase it. It exudes the period and engulfs the viewer. The music which includes Fleetwood Mac and The Stones is another grounding element. But as I mentioned earlier it is not a perfect creation. The script is too thin at times when we needed more explanation. We see the three ladies go through a lot of transformation but get little in the way of how and why. We understand their circumstances but much of their journey up the ranks is left to assumption. It felt as if months passed when it was days. Many times the story comes across as convenient and – sorry ladies – a tad preachy.
THE KITCHEN is worth seeing. If not on the big screen then for sure when it hits home devises. I would not be surprised if we hear its name dropped a few times during award season. It will be tough but hopefully some of these performances are not lost on voters. The film is rated _ and certainly for adults. When it is violent it is extremely violent. But it’s a crime drama so you need it. If you take nothing else from it at least you will have a leg up on how to dispose of a body… and that is all I will say about that.