• Film ID:
  • 20619
  • Availability:
  • DVD Available from Shop
  • Film cert:
  • Running time:
  • DVD=98 min.
  • Nationality(ies):
  • America.
  • Primary Language(s):
  • English.

The wives of New York gangsters in Hell's Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands' rackets after they're locked up in prison.

This gangster flick - set in the titular Hell's Kitchen burrow of New York circa the late seventies - has some serious balls. Which could seem ironic considering it centres on three wives who step up when their Irish-American criminal husbands are locked up for armed burglary. Directed by first-timer Andrea Berloff (who also penned the screenplay), this is a brutal, no-holds-barred cinematic take on the comic-book miniseries it adapts. This is no superhero story though, it's all about our protagonists kicking arse and taking names. Ferocious barely describes the leading trio: Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish shed their comedic backgrounds for ice-cold powerplays and ruthless shakedowns in their pursuit of building an empire, whilst Elisabeth Moss is blood-chillingly merciless as the youngest of their group. Although this is ostensibly a movie about feminism, and there's the odd mawkish moment that's a little too on-the-nose, Berloff makes multiple bold choices that consistently plays against your expectations (not least allowing the always-brilliant Margo Martindale to go full matriarch-monster). These women go toe-to-toe with their male counterparts in numerous ways: violence, betrayal, strong-arming, manipulation. There's no time for the stereotypical silent-wife-with-quiet-dignity here, they want power and will do whatever's necessary to get it. Berloff doesn't get everything right though, the pacing in particular is a big concern. The choppy editing and sudden time-jumps don't allow the characters to breathe or subplots to fully develop, meaning it lacks the substance to match its style. I'm convinced there's a three-hour version of this movie on the cutting room floor somewhere. It may feel rushed and occasionally pales in comparison to the Scorsese crime epics that are clearly big influences, but The Kitchen is beautifully shot, superbly acted and interestingly vicious.

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