The Kitchen starring Daniel Kalluya: A review

01 November 2023

 In the realm of science fiction, dystopian narratives often transport us to fantastical worlds that serve as exaggerated mirrors to our own society. Films like "The Hunger Games" or "Brazil" offer a distant landscape where the viewer can safely dissect the societal critiques being presented. "

Netflix's "The Kitchen," however, directed by Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares, offers no such comfort. The film plunges us into a speculative near-future that feels disconcertingly close to our present reality.
"The Kitchen" is a collaborative effort that brings together a unique blend of talent both in front of and behind the camera. Co-directed by Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares, the film marks an intriguing shift for both. Kaluuya, primarily known for his acting in groundbreaking films like "Get Out" and "Black Panther," makes his directorial debut here, bringing a nuanced understanding of character and narrative. 

the kitchen film review netflix david kaluuya

Tavares, on the other hand, has a background in visual effects and animation, with notable works like "Jonah" and "Robot & Scarecrow." Their combined expertise offers a rich tapestry of storytelling and visual flair. The lead actor, Kane Robinson, is better known by his stage name Kano, a significant figure in the UK grime scene. 

His previous acting credits include the acclaimed series "Top Boy," where he delivered a performance that was both gritty and emotionally resonant. Jedaiah Bannerman, who plays Benji, is a rising talent to watch, bringing a sense of vulnerability and depth to his role. 

The script is penned by Joe Barton, who has previously worked on projects like "Giri/Haji," a series that similarly delves into complex social dynamics but within the framework of a crime thriller. The confluence of these creative minds results in a film that is as multi-layered as it is engaging, each contributing their unique strengths to create a cohesive and impactful cinematic experience.

Set in a somewhat dystopian United Kingdom where social housing has been outlawed, the film focuses on a London estate called The Kitchen. This estate has resisted the nationwide decimation of community housing, becoming a sanctuary for its residents. Led by the charismatic Lord Kitchener, played by former footballer Ian Wright, the community has transformed their communal areas into a lively bazaar that is a cross between the neon-lit world of "Blade Runner" and the cultural richness of Brixton Market. 

The estate is not just a place to live; it's a vibrant community where residents come together for roller disco nights, rap battles, and bike-riding events. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the city, which is depicted as a sterile, soulless landscape dominated by charmless skyscrapers.

Kane Robinson delivers a powerful performance as Izi, a resident of The Kitchen who works at a grim futuristic funeral home in the city center. Izi is a complex character, a compelling antihero who is both a part of and apart from the community he lives in. He's a man who has internalized some of the negative rhetoric about The Kitchen, often referring to it as a "shithole." Yet, his character arc takes a turn when he meets Benji, a teenage boy portrayed by Jedaiah Bannerman. 

Benji becomes a resident of The Kitchen after a series of events that start at his mother's funeral, where he is the sole attendee. Their evolving relationship serves as the emotional core of the film, a tender narrative thread that recalls the father-son dynamics in classics like "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Paper Moon."

"The Kitchen" is a film that wears its social commentary on its sleeve but avoids becoming preachy. It challenges the audience's understanding of crime, law enforcement, and social justice. The residents of The Kitchen are not just defending their homes; they are challenging the very social constructs that define law and order. The film uses potent visual symbols to underline its points, such as a lone Saint George’s flag or surveillance drones, to question the reductive notions of "Britishness" and the invasive, dehumanizing aspects of modern law enforcement.

The film's aesthetic choices are nothing short of striking. The brutalist architecture of The Kitchen serves as a visual metaphor for the resilience and solidity of the community. The parties and gatherings are shot in shimmering jewel tones that evoke modern classics like "Moonlight" and "City of God." The dialogue, too, is a high point. Despite Izi's taciturn nature, the conversations are engaging, often laced with humor and wit. Scenes as mundane as discussing the merits of a lamp become moments of enchantment, thanks to the script and Robinson's delivery.

The film concludes on a challenging note, reminding the audience that the battle for The Kitchen is just one skirmish in a larger, ongoing war. It's a sobering message that underscores the human cost of the speculative horrors depicted in the film. The ending doesn't offer closure; instead, it leaves the audience with questions, compelling them to confront the uncomfortable realities that the film brings to light.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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