Review | The Kitchen | 2019
The Kitchen, Andrea Berloff's directorial debut, a comic book adaptation about three women who take over the Irish mob in Hells Kitchen after their husbands are sent to jail, is a bit of a mess.
The Kitchen is about three women, all essentially victims of the same patriarchal system, reclaiming their agency and taking over the family business to make it run better than ever, naysayers be damned. Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) believes that her husband is a good family man and will support her once he gets out of jail. Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) is sick of taking orders from her husband (James Badge Dale) and is ready to escape from under the oppressive thumb of family matriarch, Helen (Margo Martindale). And Claire (Elisabeth Moss) is a battered housewife looking to put victimhood behind her with hitman, Gabriel (Domhnall Gleeson). Their ascendence rubs some in the mob the wrong way, however, who become determined to put a stop to their rise at all costs.
While the screenplay has a tendency to underline its "you go girl" sentiments a little too obviously, its hard not to enjoy watching these three women knock a bunch of hard-bitten New York mobsters down a peg or two. It's not as elegantly crafted as the similarly themed Widows, but it's got spirit and guts, and that takes it a long way, even when its plotting becomes sloppy. One can't help but hope that the film's failure at the box office and its overall lack of critical favor doesn't spell doom for Berloff's fledgling career, which is unfortunately too often the case even for women who are successful at the box office. There's just an agreeable verve to her direction, even if she has a tendency to paint with much too broad a brush, overstating her themes even when the action often speaks for itself.