Helmed by British filmmakers Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, The Kitchen paints a distressing and bleak picture of London in a future that may not be too far away for our liking.
A still from The Kitchen
Izi is desperately trying to get out of The Kitchen, one of the last remaining housing estates in dystopian London. But his chance encounter with the young Benji, forces him to rethink this decision and his outlook on life.
Helmed by British filmmakers Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, The Kitchen paints a distressing and bleak picture of London in a future that may not be too far away for our liking. The giant gap between the rich and the poor has relegated a bunch of unfortunate people into living in The Kitchen, which resembles more like a pathetically pieced-together Lego blocks than a housing structure for fellow human beings.
The movie begins with the leading man Izi (played by Kane Robinson) peeping out of his heavy steel door before venturing out to take a bath. He is desperately trying to get a single-occupancy flat in the posh city, far from the wretched life in The Kitchen. Izi works at a funeral facility, Life After Life, where he meets the young Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), who has just bid farewell to his mother.
The film is set in London of 2044, and the makers have efficiently set up the miserable, messy world of The Kitchen with its barbed wires, narrow streets, and crowded corridors. So much so that The Kitchen itself comes across as a character in this movie. The overall setting is grim with a constant fear of attack looming over The Kitchen as police drones keep a close watch at the residents, painfully resembling prison environs.
The pathetic state of the quarters, where Izi lives, is juxtaposed by the sleek giant wheel viewed from their window, that stands as a cruel reminder of a better world out of their reach.
Kane Robinson does justice to his role of a lone man, battling his fights with no one by his side. And he is ably supported by newcomer Jedaiah Bannerman, who effortlessly conveys the helplessness of a newly orphaned child.
Ian Wright essays the memorable role of Lord Kitchener, providing crucial updates to fellow mates such as water availability. Though his screen time is short, his words of advice and encouragement leave an impression.
Written by Daniel Kaluuya and Joe Murtagh, the movie takes its time to really unravel. The initial portions where Izi reluctantly forms a bond with Benji, who is also wooed by the vigilante gang at The Kitchen, feel too long and overdrawn. And despite a duration of only 1 hour and 48 minutes, the slow pacing of the movie makes it feel longer.
However, the last leg of the movie, where the impending violence erupts over to the city is well-executed. The scenes carry a power, and the use of a soft background score instead of the actual sound of mayhem makes it a poetic watch.
The Kitchen, which premiered at the 67th BFI London Film Festival in October 2023, dropped on Netflix on January 19, 2024 .
The Kitchen, with its grim vision of the dystopian world, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It is a rude wake-up call to what could be awaiting us in the near future. Give this movie a chance, this weekend.