The Kitchen

The Kitchen

By Joanna Langfield

This is a kind of crazy movie. My kind of crazy movie.

Yes, this is a story about three women who run a mob. Yes, they threaten and off a few people. And yes, it might be kind of a, well, surprise for some, to see a major motion picture serving them up to us in a sympathetic light. But before everybody goes racing to post their moral outrage, let me remind you: the story of The Kitchen, based on a comic book series, was inspired by real women who ruled New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood back in the 1970’s.

Andrea Berloff’s film introduces us to our anti-heroines just as their husbands are nabbed during an armed robbery. Left with little money and fewer options, the women develop a system of their own, offering “security” to neighborhood businesses. The vying Westies gang isn’t happy, but the women are. And pretty soon, they’re not just rich, they’re in trouble.

Even when the tone and sometimes awkward script jump abruptly, Berloff manages to tell her story with enough detail to engage us, similarly to the way a mob drama starring men would. Respect is paid, but this is no feminist manifesto. This is a crime drama, albeit with a twist. And it’s got some nifty performances in it.

Elizabeth Moss is top notch in perhaps the most complex role. Melissa McCarthy continues to impress with this, her second leading dramatic role. And wait till you see what Tiffany Haddish, starring in her first big screen drama, does here. Common, sadly, is not given a whole lot to do, but maybe it’s just that he’s up against competing-for-heartthrob Domhnall Gleeson, an actor who has given some impressive performances before, but reveals a whole other side which is, shall we say, memorable.