Monday 21 October 2019

The Kitchen review: Great cast, awful film

1 star

The Kitchen: Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy
The Kitchen: Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy

Chris Wasser

What happened here? That’s the only question worth asking of Andrea Berloff’s disastrous, New York-based crime drama, about a trio of Hell’s Kitchen housewives who take over their mobster husbands’ operations, after the boys end up behind bars. You know, like Widows, only rubbish.

It’s 1978, and Melissa McCarthy is Kathy Brennan, a stay-at-home mom, whose Irish-American husband, Jimmy, is sent down by the FBI, following a series of armed robberies. Kathy’s mates, Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire (Elisabeth Moss), are in the same position.

Their abusive spouses got nicked with Jimmy, and now everyone is in a bad financial state. But fear not, because things will soon take a turn (a very quick turn), and Kathy and Co will soon (very soon) be running this city.

I don’t mean to be facetious, but the speed and manner in which this shallow, underdeveloped feature unravels and, indeed, explains itself, borders on the absurd.

In fact, sitting through The Kitchen is akin to watching someone trying to make a Scorsese film, without ever having watched a Scorsese film. The storytelling is so feckless, and the editing so random, that key players literally walk in and out of this thing, with almost zero explanation.

The worst — and, simultaneously, the best — is Domhnall Gleeson as Gabriel, a violent ally of the women and, later, a mentor and lover to Claire. Gabriel just wanders in out of nowhere and is suddenly a major component.

To be fair, Gleeson and Moss are terrific together, and I sincerely hope they find the opportunity to reconvene in the future.

They can certainly do better than a film based on a comic book that most of have never heard of, that makes no sense, relies on too many convoluted twists and Fleetwood Mac tunes, and features one of the most half-arsed closing scenes in cinema. Great cast, awful film.

(16, 103mins)

Also releasing this week:

Ad Astra review: Brad Pitt is quite brilliant in this epic, intensely poetic tale Ad Astra review: 'Not the film you were expecting, but a bit of a masterpiece' The Farewell review: One of the best films of the year so far

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