McCarthy. Haddish. Moss. I don’t think you’re prepared for how badass these three leads are. While the trailers for The Kitchen showed a little bit of their performances, it doesn’t even begin to touch on the strength they bring to the screen. Their performances and the power their characters bring to the story is what makes this whole thing a success. It’s really great to see such a well put together mobster film championed by strong women. The dynamic between the leads and their husbands becomes very interesting, and that’s something we haven’t really seen before. Actually, the whole concept is something we haven’t seen before and I’m so glad we have it now.
I’d already seen Melissa McCarthy in a dramatic role with her Oscar nominated part in last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? Because I’d already seen how amazing she is as a dramatic actress, I knew she could handle something like this. She doesn’t just play this role, she completely envelops it. McCarthy has scenes where she just flat out mesmerizes you, particularly towards the end. There’s a monologue in one of the final scenes that’s so impressively written and very honestly performed by McCarthy, one of the best moments of her career. I was very excited to see what Tiffany Haddish would do with this, given that she made her name in comedy and that’s all she’s ever done. I’m pleased to say that Haddish is an incredible force to be reckoned with in this film. Her character is ruthless and Haddish handles the rough material with amazing skill, I was really impressed.
Elisabeth Moss has a really well done character arc here. She gets to play a woman that undergoes a transformation of sorts. I won’t go into the details of it but it’s a very powerful change that makes her character all the more compelling. Moss, who’s versed in extremely dramatic roles, knocks this out of the park. All three of these women are truly memorable here, and when you put them all together, it becomes something really special. They have such palpable onscreen chemistry.
The supporting cast fits in well and is able to make a mark. Margo Martindale is the best out of them all, turning in a skilled performance, a type we don’t usually see from her. She plays the matriarch of the mob, Haddish’s mother in law. She plays her role with this deliciously over the top menace, a kind of toughness that Martindale just nails. It’s a delight to watch. Common also plays a supporting role, though it is a rather pivotal one.
Common does a nice job with his part, although I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more of him. That’s really the only downside here, I thought his character was underused, especially considering where he falls in the plot. So all the cast members are up to the challenge and surpass expectations, for sure the strongest aspect of the entire film. The writing is pretty strong overall. The main characters get several scenes that include very well written monologues, monologues that inform us on how their circumstances have affected them. I love that this script pays attention to that and includes dialogue for them that gives us a compelling peak inside them as people. The film is paced well too, I never got that feeling you get in some films where you start to lose interest because you don’t have a good grip on where things are going. Nothing uneven here, your attention won’t waver.
The Kitchen succeeds because of it’s talented cast that all turn in outstanding performances and because of the script that allows for them to shine. I realize this film is sitting at around 20% percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but I hope you’ll give this one a chance and support because it really is well made. I’ll be looking for more dramatic work from Haddish and McCarthy.