Film Review: THE KITCHEN (2023): Science Fiction Drama Has an Intriguing Story but Lacks a Compelling Center SuperNayr

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The Kitchen Review

The Kitchen (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares, written by Daniel Kaluuya and Joe Murtagh and starring Kane Robinson (Kano), Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jnr, Henry Lawfull, Reuben ‘Trizzy’ Nyamah, Alan Asaad, Rasaq Kukoyi, Fiona Marr, Ian Wright, Arabella McMurray and Bradley Wj Miller.

Daniel Kaluuya won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar which more than proves he has considerable talent as a performer. He is behind the camera for the new futuristic dystopian drama, The Kitchen, alongside a co-director, Kibwe Tavares. Kaluuya (who serves as co-writer of the new film as well) may not want to quit his day job as an actor quite yet but shows promise as a filmmaker with some very vivid settings and plausible characterizations in The Kitchen. The problem with the movie is that it takes a lot of difficult subject matter and streamlines it into something of an action picture instead of dealing head on with the tough realities the film proposes could come true one day.

The Kitchen does for the future of housing projects what the far superior The Creator did for the future of Artificial Intelligence. Both movies present a young kid bonding with an older parental type figure while the world around them crumbles. The Creator is a more hopeful movie despite its dark overtones. The Kitchen is very bleak and though it offers moments of joy within the experiences of the characters, it’s mostly about a no-win situation for these characters at hand. Yet, the movie is compelling enough in its proposal of a reality where the poor are suppressed in a system which doesn’t allow for much optimism among its citizens.

This movie stars Kane Robinson (Kano) as Izi. The film opens as he’s taking a shower while residents of his housing project wait outside patiently for their turn. Izi swipes the latest news on his mirror which displays the internet apparently. Izi works at a funeral home where residents are turned into plants for the sake of simplifying financial matters. When a woman named Toni passes away, Izi meets a kid named Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman). Benji, who doesn’t know his dad, wonders if Izi knew Toni personally. Izi tries to shrug the kid off but Benji’s more than a bit persistent to learn more information especially after the loss of his mom.

The title refers to the aforementioned London housing projects where the residents presented in the film are living in rebellion to the authorities. Water is scarce in this world the movie shows us. Constant police raids make the characters’ lives a living hell but some people find escape in daily activities that give them a glimmer of hope among the chaos. One such activity is roller skating. There is a lot of action here and one supporting actor, Hope Ikpoku Jnr, stands out as a gang leader called Staples but the movie is really a character study between Izi and Benji and focuses a lot of its attention on the development of their characters.

It’s easy to see the parallels between The Kitchen and The Creator but, for the sake of being fair, they tell of two different futuristic possibilities. Izi and Benji take on the type of friendship John David Washington had with the AI girl in The Creator, though. People will wonder if they are, indeed, father and son the whole entire movie but the film offers no easy answers to that question before the credits roll.

Kane Robinson (Kano) is superb in his role here as the man torn between escaping his circumstances (by changing his housing situation) and doing the right thing. Robinson never ceases to be anything less than totally engaging in his role as his character runs the gamut of emotions over the course of the movie. Bannerman’s Benji undergoes a character transformation as the film’s plot develops. Bannerman is a talented up-and-comer and plays off Robinson with tremendous skill.

Daniel Kaluuya and his directing partner, Kibwe Tavares employ an excellent futuristic and almost hopeless atmosphere to the movie. It’s the human side of the movie, though, that has given it the emotional edge it needs to work as a dramatic film. Does it ultimately succeed as a whole, though? Well, yes and no. The performances are of high quality but the story gets bogged down in chase sequences and towards the end as the residents try to turn the tables on the police, there is certainly genuine tension. Unfortunately, though, the last scene is a bit anti-climatic and the movie provides more thought-provoking questions than it wants to answer.

Still, for science fiction fans, The Kitchen may offer a lot of conversation starters about where things could lead if people are continuously forced to be treated unequally due to their unfortunate economic circumstances. Kaluuya is working on a Barney movie next it seems. It’s quite a jump from this film to one about a talking dinosaur. That proves Kaluuya has ambition. If he could have focused that ambition into the disturbing ending of The Kitchen, it may have been a better film. But, there’s certainly that curiosity factor which could make people want to see this film.

Rating: 6.5/10

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