HBOWatch Movie Review: ‘THE KITCHEN’


This movie had promise; when I saw the trailer for it, I was initially excited to see a trio of women fighting, scratching and clawing for power together in the male-dominated Irish mob while becoming badasses who had authority and autonomy.

I was wrong and sat through the movie much to my chagrin. At one point, I got up and made myself a bowl of Cheerios. I didn’t miss anything earth-shattering.

It is a typical mob movie where there’s people getting whacked, money to be made and laundered and power struggles between rival families and turf gangs. At the heart of the story are three Irish mob wives – Kathy, Ruby and Claire. One has an abusive husband; one is not of Irish descent and one is married to a timid man (which really doesn’t fit in with the violent lifestyle of mobsters). The three men are arrested by FBI and sent to jail for a few years, leaving their respective wives with no formal role in the family, no income to pay bills and no protection. A real scumbag named Little Jackie becomes the de facto head of the family when the husbands are in jail. Little Jackie isn’t exactly the most honest guy on the block. He says one thing to the wives and does another. Kathy, Ruby and Claire are left to fend for themselves, a position that they were clearly not prepared for but have no choice. Another female in the mob family is Helen O’Carroll, who is Kevin’s mother and the real power behind the throne when it comes to the day to day operation of running this Irish mob.

After getting to know their neighborhood, they find out the protection fees being paid to Little Jackie by the small businesses – and those small business owners don’t feel that their fees are paying off. The trio of women decides that they could do that job and work hard to become respected members in their community while helping where possible and collecting their own protection fees from small businesses. Things are good for the ladies until they are scheduled to meet another boss from the Italian Mafia. Alfonso Coretti has heard of the ladies and wished to make a deal with them because mob members love nothing better to negotiate with each other, as a show of strength, to show that they have goods and muscle behind the scenes and also to establish connections in other territories.


The deal is that Corsetti can arrange the husbands to get out of jail and yet, the women have grown incredibly self enough and tough as a result of having to become independent because they’ve had to work twice as hard. Little Jackie isn’t happy about having his money or power usurped and attempts to go after the wives. The wives have some back up support and Claire find herself attracted to an Irish mob muscle guy, Gabriel. When Kevin, James and Rob are released from prison, each husband has his take on what should happen next. Rob is enraged that his wife left him and makes the mistake of confronting Claire and loses his life for it. He was an abusive prick, so no loss there. Coretti informs the wives that a contract has been placed on them – and the betrayals begin to mount up. Claire is killed. Kathy finds out that Ruby has been quietly paying money under the table to an FBI agent. Kathy isn’t really who she says she is. More double crosses occur because people are ticked off that they aren’t in positions of power and more attempted murders occur, only to be thwarted in the nick of time. Kathy and Ruby must come to their senses and work together if they are to compete with the men, to stay afloat and to stay alive.

I enjoy a good mob movie that has good actors and fantastic plotlines. I had hoped for something along the lines of a female empowered version of The Departed. This wasn’t one of them. But by all means, check it out if you are crazed in your isolation space. It debuts SATURDAY, MARCH 28 at 8:00pm on HBO. 

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