THE KITCHEN on Netflix is a 2023 British sci-fi movie set in a dystopian future in London but with a familiar story. Feature writer-director debut of Daniel Kaluuya. Read our The Kitchen movie review here!
THE KITCHEN (2023) is a new Netflix movie that premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2023. It’s also been out in limited theatrical release before this Netflix release.
I really wanted to like this, but I just did not. Maybe I just expected more from a movie with Daniel Kaluuya at the helm, as he has certainly been in some of the strongest social commentary movies of the recent decade.
Continue reading our The Kitchen movie review below. Find it on Netflix from January 19, 2024.
Welcome to The Kitchen in London
The Kitchen (2023) is set in a dystopian London. We’re in the future, but the world doesn’t feel all that different, which is okay. Also, the gap between rich and poor is bigger than ever, which seems all too believable with how the world is evolving.
Social housing no longer exists, so people have created a new version with “The Kitchen”. Essentially, people of all ages are squatting in these buildings, which also means police are constantly sent to remove them.
However, they refuse as they have no other option for a home. This setting is hardly unfamiliar as we’ve been through years of squatting before. I mean, in my native country of Denmark, a whole part of Copenhagen was born this way: Christiania.
Feels too familiar
In any case, this is the setting of the story which focuses on Izi. A very stereotypical lone wolf brooding man, who wants to find a way out of The Kitchen. And while living there, is a right a**hole to his fellow man.
That’s usually the opposite of how these “Freetown” areas work, but that’s how Izi rolls. Until, of course, he meets the 12-year-old Benji, who just lost his mother.
This “unlikely pair, ” the kind of pair we’ve seen many times before, ends up fighting against the powers that be together.
The setting of people with no real income being forced to live in self-created “Freetown” is hardly anything new. Having it in London is new, and so is setting the story in the future.
Not much sci-fi or adventure
Billed as a sci-fi adventure drama, I’m afraid many viewers will be as disappointed as I was. The world-building is far from what I would’ve wanted and the characters are the usual (almost exclusively male) brooding and moody types.
Also, The Kitchen is hardly a dystopian future, but rather a very current way of life in many places of the world today. Areas very similar to this already exist in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.
Movies have been made with plots in similar settings and even with a sci-fi edge that is much more apparent than in this one. In fact, calling The Kitchen (2023) a science fiction movie is surely not the right way to sell it to viewers?!
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017) and District 9 (2009) are just two examples of movies I’d recommend over this one. Also, the Oscar-nominated Lebanese movie Capernaum (2018) is one of the very best movies to show childhood in the slum.
Watch The Kitchen on Netflix now!
The Kitchen is the feature-length directorial debut of both Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out). Personally, I do miss having Kaluuya in front of the camera and I think it would’ve been better from him starring in it.
The screenplay also comes from Daniel Kaluuya, who co-wrote it with Joe Murtagh. Having just watched Joe Murtaugh’s amazing BBC/Showtime co-production The Woman in the Wall, I cannot sense him in this sci-fi drama. At all!
DO CHECK OUT
The Kitchen premiered as the closing film of the 67th BFI London Film Festival on October 15, 2023. Since then, it has also been out in limited theatrical release and maybe watching it in a theater does something good for it.
Watching it on Netflix, I was overwhelmingly disappointed by the story and characters. The latter were generally unlikable and very one-dimensioned. A real shame, as this setting and overall plot could’ve been a hearty social commentary.
The Kitchen is on Netflix from January 19, 2024.
Directors: Daniel Kaluuya, Kibwe Tavares
Writers: Daniel Kaluuya, Joe Murtagh
Stars: Kane Robinson (Kano), Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jr, Teija Kabs, Demmy Ladipo, Cristale, BackRoad Gee
In a dystopian future London where all social housing has been eliminated, Izi and Benji fight to navigate the world as residents of The Kitchen, a community that refuses to abandon their home.