Sometimes the future is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially London in 2040 according to The Kitchen. That is unless you’re part of the rich elite – a class difference that has only grown and grown. The government has been working to shut down social housing and the kitchen is one of the last of its kind. Izi (Kane Robinson) is ready to get out of that shithole. Yet that’s much easier said than done. He has been saving up and is almost ready to move out of the kitchen and leave that life behind.
Every day is the same – wake up, get in line to use the limited water for the shower. Listen to Lord Kitchener’s (Ian Wright) booming updates and inspiration through the radio. Go to work, lie to make commission on sales, dream about getting out of the kitchen, and bed. Rinse and repeat. Izi just keeps to himself and focuses on life after the Kitchen. Yet not every local shares Ize’s views. Staples (Hope Ikpoku Jnr) is a Kitchen resident who happens to have pride in the kitchen. Staples wants to make the kitchen better, going as far as stealing food and distributing it amongst the people.
The two don’t typically interact. That is until Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman) comes into the picture. Benji’s mom has just passed, and he is lost without her. His dad is nowhere to be found, and she was all he had. Benji gravitates towards Izi, who struggles to let down his walls and let Benji in. That’s when Staples swoops by to try and take Benji under his wing.
Daniel Kaluuya both co-wrote and co-directed The Kitchen. Kibwe Tavares co-directed along with Kaluuya while Joe Murtagh co-wrote the film. We’re used to seeing Kaluuya in front of the camera with him being the lead in so many major films over the past half decade. This is the first time we’ve seen him behind the camera as The Kitchen is his directorial debut and his first feature-length screenplay. Tavares and Murtagh are in similar situations with the film being Tavares feature-length debut and Murtagh’s second feature. Overall, in terms of experience, it’s a fairly young group, but that is far from evident when watching the film.
Kaluuya & co managed to create a powerful atmosphere in The Kitchen. On the surface the kitchen looks dull and gray. Seemingly sapped of energy and happiness. Yet right below that we see vibrant colors, laughing, music, and dancing. A group of people who find strength – even after the government tries to bring them down and kick them out of their homes. As Lord Kitchener claims, ‘They can’t stop we.’ Constant raids during the day don’t break their spirit. They stand up and support each other, banging pots to warn residents when the police are coming.
The script has a mix of humor and heart. The main character’s actions may be frustrating at times, but The Kitchen has its fair share of touching moments. Nothing in the film seems implausible, which is scary in and of itself. Robinson and Bannerman have terrific chemistry throughout the movie. The script never drags as we’re taken through Izi trying to strengthen his relationship with Benji. The Kitchen certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel. There are similarities between many films and books that have come before it. However strong acting and an interesting script make The Kitchen worth a watch.
The Kitchen is streaming now on Netflix.