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The Kitchen (2023) - Posters — The Movie Database (TMDB)Review

The Kitchen (Drama, Sci-Fi) (2023)


Director: Daniel Kaluuya, Kibwe Tavares

Writer: Daniel Kaluuya, Joe Murtagh

Stars: Kane Robinson, Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jr, Ian Wright

In a near-future version of London, a community called The Kitchen fights to protect their own as they're gradually being phased out by society.

Initially shown exclusively at the BFI London Film Festival, also being the dual debut feature film of Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares. "The Kitchen" presents a harsh reality which seemingly hasn't changed much from ours, even if it could be seen as slightly worse. It was filmed entirely on location in London at the old London Electricity Board Building and in Paris at the Damiers Complex in La Défense. It was produced by Film4, 59% Productions and DMC Film while distributed on Netflix.

Living in a futuristic yet underprivileged apartment block. Izi (Kane Robertson) works at a funeral service called Life After Life, which allows loved ones to be remembered through plants after they're gone, allowing those left behind to watch them grow even after they've passed. Their neighbourhood is an area called The Kitchen, where disenfranchised inhabitants struggle to survive here due to the upper-class citizens and politicians who'd rather evict them from these premises by any means. Once Izi meets Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), he assumes the role of a mentor, teaching Benji valuable life lessons and shielding him from dangerous hoodlums such as Staples (Hope Ikpoku Jr), who's luring him down a path of crime.

The Kitchen (2023) - IMDbBeing a compelling venture from his acting career, Kaluuya and his co-director Tavares show a feature similar to many films in British cinema, providing a slow-burn. But, most notably to me "The Kitchen" feels much akin to Olivia Wilde's "Don't Worry Darling", transferring an unmistakable personal flair and tone as if a fingerprint of Kaluuya directly affecting every scene, logically being unfamiliar with his co-director.

The Kitchen (2023) - IMDbThrough Robinson's Izi and more-so Bannerman's Benji, we're guided along the squalid cyberpunk-esque streets of The Kitchen. However, not to be understated is the true voice of the people in Wright's radio voice of Lord Kitchener and within a curtate timeframe it's clear the setting is the foremost character.

Certain kinship or mentorship gives us some narrative within "The Kitchen". Yet, the world is fundamental in grasping such a flick… Keenly placed is what I'd describe as a smart mirror with which Izi interacts, soon followed by other near-future technology in storefronts. Meeting Benji at his mother's funeral further establishes the path narratively yet much like the sci-fi gimmick which the environment poses, Benji and Izi never truly progress much in relation only. Perhaps the only goal is to provide human experience after years of future advancement. Rarely does even a brilliant drama connect every piece for genuine emotion, though. In this piece, you'll spend half an hour trying to adapt and form an understanding of Kaluuya and Tavares' direction before discovering it opts for an analysis instead of a narrative.  

Relying on the characters of Benji, Izi and Staples, in addition to an empty tacked-on sci-fi aesthetic without narrative to guide the audience's attention. Netflix's latest feature truly bummed me out, loving Kaluuya's performances as an actor creating such a flop for Netflix isn't providing a positive launch for his directing career, although I'm hopeful that somewhere along the way, he finds his way, which I'm sure he will without money-hungry execs drooling on his shoulder.