Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, directing their debut feature film, tell a heartwarmingly humanistic tale of intergenerational friendship.
The dystopian thriller “The Kitchen,” which is set in a near-future version of London, has a lot of energy and camaraderie, which could seem to contradict the movie’s emphasis on persecution and deprivation. The tight-knit, primarily non-White community that swells and surges inside the named public housing project—one of the last to be absorbed by private developers—does not, however, inspire hopelessness.
An estate is being besieged. From the police, who conduct armed raids and use surveillance drones, to the officials, who obstruct food delivery and other services. But within this colourful maze of food stands and apartment-like buildings, there’s a palpable sense of unity among individuals uniting against a shared foe. Izi (a terrific Kane Robinson) is a self-centered achiever who is saving for a down payment on a fancy apartment.
She is standing alone. In a futuristic funeral home, Izi sells burial packages and uses made-up stories about his own losses to increase his income. Soon after, Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), a freshly orphaned mourner who is challenging to remove, interferes with his efforts
“The Kitchen” is partially a protest against gentrification and the commercialization of England’s once-thriving public housing, but it lightens its depressing tone with improbable humour and a strikingly varied soundtrack—which is primarily provided by the community’s resident D.J., played by former soccer player Ian Wright. The directing, by Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares, is certain and straightforward, telling a heartwarmingly compassionate tale of intergenerational bonding. The actors pull the film back whenever it seems like it might get too sentimental, with Hope Ikpoku Jr. standing out for her all-too-brief role as a cunning rival for Benji’s loyalty.