Director: Andrea Berloff
Talent: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson
Release: 20 September
It’s Hell’s Kitchen, New York, in the 1970’s. The three ring leaders of a small band of Irish American crooks are caught robbing a convenience store and sentenced to three years. Their respective wives Kathy (McCarthy), Claire (Moss) and Ruby (Haddish) have to find a way to make ends meet. Taking business into their own hands, the three women start running the rackets and establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
Andrea Berloff follows on from Steve McQueen’s 2018 film Widows with a film very much in a similar vein. McCarthy plays ringleader and is driven by pure survival, counting down the days to her husband’s release. Haddish and Moss’ characters are driven not only by survival but by the need to excel and control a small empire that will empower them and prohibit any further intervention from their abusive partners on their release. Theirs is a final chance to step out from under the shadows of the controlling figures in their lives.
All three of the leads, and Domhnall Gleeson playing a gangster/Vietnam veteran, are really very good here but they’re surrounded by a badly written supporting cast. Honourable mention has to go to Margo Martindale as the excruciating caricature of the Irish grandmother, the respected head of the family, and the tragically underused Annabella Sciorra as the Italian mob boss’ wife who’s initial lines of dialogue will haunt me.
But what happened to the plot? Everything careens so fast. The Kitchen starts off well but quickly collapses under the weight of its soundtracked girl power montages, contrived plot mechanics and occasionally absurd script. It’s such a pity. What should have been the perfect vehicle for three megastars suffers under the contortions of its constantly meandering storyline that winds up with a faintly ridiculous ending. What started with a bang, ends with a wet fart.
Words: Shane O’Reilly