‘The Kitchen’ Review: Mob Movies and Comic Book Adaptations Get a Violent, Vivid Gender-Swapped Entry

IndieWire | 8/8/2019 | Staff
Claw987Claw987 (Posted by) Level 4
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Kathy is good at it. Claire relishes the violence. Ruby wants to control her own destiny. Drawn together by circumstance — or, more appropriately, because their individually unsatisfying husbands all worked together, badly enough that the cops busted them and now their women need to pick up the pieces — the trio at the center of Andrea Berloff’s “The Kitchen” sets about building their own criminal empire with surprising results.

Set in the grit and grime of ’70s-era New York City, mostly in the ****’s Kitchen neighborhood of its title, Berloff’s feature directorial debut adds a vivid, and yes, very violent new twist on the mob genre, swapping in scrappy ladies in a typically male-dominated world.

Hook - Film - Story - Berloff - Film

That’s the hook of both the film and the story that plays out within it, as Berloff’s film opens with an ill-fated mob job that throws Jimmy (Brian d’Arcy James), Kevin (James Badge Dale), and Rob (Jeremy Bobb) into prison for the foreseeable future, thanks to a pair of FBI agents (Common and E.J. Bonilla) hellbent on cleaning up a messy city.

In a canny opening sequence, Berloff not only sends the three mob underlings packing, but introduces their very different wives (and their very different relationships). Jimmy is good to Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), while Kevin and his mother (Margo Martindale) aren’t very nice to Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Rob is still worse to Claire (Elisabeth Moss, the film’s MVP).

Men - Women - Bond - To…well - Irish

When their men are sent away, the women bond together to…well, mostly just scrape by. But after they’re dismissed by the Irish mob that promised to keep them afloat, Kathy, Claire, and Ruby come up with a fresh idea: Maybe just start their own mafia? Adapted by Berloff from Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s Vertigo comic book miniseries of the same name, “The Kitchen” cooks up one ****...
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