From its trio of female leads to its cliche-flipping storyline, here’s why gritty new thriller The Kitchen is far from your average gangster film…
Is there any more male-dominated a genre than the mob movie?
From Goodfellas to The Godfather, films about organised crime have always tended to be created by men for men, but new release The Kitchen is about to change all that.
Directed by Andrea Berloff and co-starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, the ‘70s-set movie follows a trio of mob wives who find themselves forced to take up the bloody business of racketeering when their husbands are suddenly snatched by the FBI.
Here’s how it swerves the usual stereotypes and why you should be booking your tickets ASAP…
1. There’s a woman behind the camera
Plenty of studios pay lip-service to female-driven action movies, but Warner Bros. has fully committed here, giving first-time director Berloff the chance to shine.
Not that she’s much of a gamble, having already bagged herself an Oscar nomination for her Straight Outta Compton screenplay.
She absolutely nails it, creating a vision of Hell’s Kitchen that nods to the story’s comic-book roots, while also feeling queasily realistic.
It’s been slow progress, but with the likes of Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins and Captain Marvel’s Anna Boden leading the way, it feels like female directors are getting the chance to helm blockbuster projects.
Not before time.
2. The women are more than just molls
Up until now, women in mob movies have tended to be either trophy girlfriends, oblivious mothers or strippers.
However, the three leading ladies in The Kitchen are far more than token additions – they’re the whole show.
When it soon becomes clear that the non-incarcerated members of their organisation aren’t about to help them pay the bills, they realise that they’re going to have to get their hands dirty to survive.
“This is about people who were never taken seriously, who realise they can’t sit back and let things happen to them anymore,” says Berloff, who also wrote the script.
“They need to take charge and take action in a big way.”
And take action they most certainly do, seizing control of the Hell’s Kitchen streets in ruthless fashion.
3. The stars are playing against type
Sure, we saw Melissa McCarthy playing it straight to award-winning effect in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but hands up who expected to see Tiffany Haddish take a role as a hard-nosed criminal?
Nope, us neither.
It’s definitely some eye-catching casting, but once the opening credits roll, you’ll fully believe these women as the Hell’s Kitchen badasses they’re playing.
As for Moss, it’s another example of a massively versatile actress at the very top of her game.
If you’ve been wowed by her in Mad Men or The Handmaid’s Tale, expect to see something totally different but equally brilliant from her here.
4. It doesn’t pull any punches
If you thought a female-led mob movie would be any less gritty than a male-fronted counterpart, you’d be sorely mistaken.
Elisabeth Moss’s character is particularly quick to take to her newly violent life, pulling her pistol on catcallers at any given opportunity, and demonstrating a particularly startling aptitude for disposing of troublesome bodies.
“As messed up as it is, it’s the story of a woman finding her power the only way she can, at that time and place, and as a member of that community,” says Moss of her character’s arc.
Sure enough, she soon becomes the enforcer of the group, reining brutal retribution down upon their enemies.
It’s empowering stuff. Bloody, but empowering.
5. It's got an awesome female-led soundtrack
Most films about the Irish-American mob are saddled with a soundtrack of Dropkick Murphys B-sides, but happily, The Kitchen aims way higher.
Instead of the usual gangster movie standards, we’re instead treated to a host of bangers from some of the most iconic female artists of the ‘70s.
Listen out for hits from the likes of Etta James, The Velvelettes, Marilyn McCoo and Melanie Safka, as well as a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain by The Highwomen that we’ve had stuck in our heads ever since.
Expect to have the Spotify playlist on loop for weeks to come.
The Kitchen will open in UK cinemas on 20 September 2019. Get your tickets here.
© 2019 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.