The Kitchen (2024) Review

The Kitchen
The Kitchen
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The Kitchen is the latest entry to a relatively small genre: British social-realist sci-fi, named after the lawless fictitious housing estate it is set in. The film is set in London where brutalist structures are maintained by the government only through violent police attacks against tenants. As much as this debuting movie from directors Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares imagines a near future for the capital, it also highlights many present-day issues. Using street gangs to communicate with alienated teenagers, single motherhood difficulties and poor home provision are not new but intermingled here very well and given full 90 minutes’ coverage.

On meeting our hero Izi (also known as grime stalwart Kano), he is shown taking a shower which goes against his self-centered nature and at the same time annoys people living in other flats. He’s about to leave The Kitchen since he has already purchased an apartment on one of the middle floors of what seems like those new buildings designed for young professionals. However, during work hours at his job as an undertaker at Life After Life funeral home with a difference, he meets teenager Benji who is grieving for his late mum (Izi’s ex-girlfriend). These two do not become friends instantly but Izi helps Benji during one of the police attacks by hiding him from those committing smash-and-grabs while trying to recruit him into their gang. Evidently, Izi does not want Benji to be inducted in one of these groups which usually have no fathers around them who could be providing real parental care.

Sci-fi comes second to social realism even though it has elements barely stretching reality in Kaluuya’s script co-authored by Joe Murtagh. In an opening scene that borders on thrilling, a biker gang pulls off a truck raiding operation stealing some food supplies that they take back into The Kitchen afterwards. As much as it might sound far-fetched to optimists, in an era of growing food banks, such scenes might not look so fictional anymore. However, for now,, the regular police raids seem a little too excessive though still within the bounds of possibility if somewhat more brutal than we would normally associate with this kind of law enforcement in Britain.

Despite some interesting components however The Kitchen neither surprises nor thrills enough to make it great. Indeed, Tavares’ architectural training had a part to play in the film’s strong visual style which tends to make us feel just like the people who live there about stuck down. Robinson (in his best screen performance to date) and Bannerman make for a very watchable couple of man-and-boy-thrown-together-by-circumstances. Surprisingly, former footballer Ian Wright is excellent cast as estate DJ Lord Kitchener (a nod to the Trinidadian calypso star of the same name who came over on Empire Windrush). If Kaluuya and Tavares make further choices such as those inspired by Wright’s casting throughout their directorial careers; they are likely to be hailed as filmmakers soon enough.

Read The Kitchen Movie Review on Fmovies

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