Sisters are doin’ it for themselves sang Annie Lennox in 2003. Now, in 2019, it seems like that seems more the case. More and more females in Hollywood are taking their space. Writing, acting in, directing, and producing films. Having more control over what is being made has led to a small upswing in female oriented (as much as I hate that label) films. Films which in the past would have traditionally male focused and acted by. Now with films like Ghostbusters and Widows and even before that Salt (starring Angelina Jolie) the door has been opened.
The Kitchen follows along in the vein of Widows, which was a solid film. This time around the women in typically male type roles film is not as successful. Both critics and movie goers are not taking to this film. Despite the fact that is stars three talented and likable women – Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy.
Set in the late 1970s, this is the story of women living in the Hell’s Kitchen area of NYC taking over their husbands’ business. And by business I mean illegal activities. After some success their new endeavour begins to exact too high a price…in many ways.
Three husbands, Kevin (James Badge Dale – The Departed, Iron Man 3), Jimmy (Brian d’Arcy James – Spotlight, Dark Phoenix) and Rob (Jeremy Bobb – from television’s Russian Doll), leave for “work” (a bank robbery) and don’t come back. The Irish mobsters go out on a job and end up arrested then jailed for years. Leaving their wives back at home without a source of income. Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Spy), Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish – The Secret Lives of Pets 2, Night School) and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss – from television’s The Handmaid’s Tale) all try to find jobs making the money they need to live, but find it impossible. As such, they come together and decide to take over for their husbands in the mobster business. Shakedowns, hits and the like all ensue.
Needless to say, the fact that women are doing all this does not go over well with the men in that world. After some real fights for respect in the beginning they begin to make some serious cash. As they win over people by fighting for workers and women’s rights as well as party hard at the discos.
They also begin to make enemies, Little Jackie (Myk Watford – Spider-Man, No Country for Old Men), and unlikely allies like the Brooklyn Italian mafia boss, Alfonso Coretti (Bill Camp – 12 Years a Slave, Joker) and a hitman named Gabriel (Domhnall Gleeson – Ex Machina, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi).
There is definitely room out there in the film world for a good female mobsters movie. This is not it, however. The wait continues. Mostly at fault here is the story. It truly drags, is totally predictable and does not draw us in to actually like and root for these three women. We don’t care how their lives turn out.
Maybe the problem lies with first time director Andrea Berloff, who had previously worked as an actress and screenwriter (Straight Outta Compton, World Trad Center). She ambitiously tries to make a film which is at the same time a dark comedy as well as gritty and realistic. Instead of being complex it ends up a mess.
The three actresses cannot be blamed for the film’s ills as they all do what they can. Especially Moss.
– Running Hells Kitchen
– Taking Over the Neighborhood
– Deleted Scenes