Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

The Kitchen is a solid directorial debut from Daniel Kaluuya

Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya steps behind the camera for the science fiction film The Kitchen from Netflix. In addition to co-directing the film with Kibwe Tavares, Kaluuya also pens the script with Joe Murtagh.

In a dystopian version of London, the gap between the rich and the poor has become extreme. All forms of social housing have been eliminated, except for The Kitchen. The Kitchen is a community that refuses to leave the place they call home. Here, we meet Izi (Kane Robinson), who lives there out of necessity and is desperately trying to find a way out.

Besides Izi, we have 12-year-old Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), who has lost his mother and is searching for a family. The writers deserve praise for their approach to bringing Izi and Benji together. It turns out that Izi knew Benji’s mother, and their chance meeting sets off a chain reaction of events. We follow the unlikely duo as they try to form a bond against all odds in a system that is heavily biased against them.

The Kitchen follows the typical template a film like this requires. At first, Izi was irritated by Benji’s presence. However, after witnessing Benji’s abilities in making a sale within his field of work, Izi begins to warm up to him. There may be shared interests and similarities between the two.

There is a growing concern about Benji’s safety as he has become involved with a gang that specializes in robberies. Izi has stepped in to prevent him from becoming another statistic. He is trying to play a more active role in Benji’s life with the hope of helping him achieve a better future. However, it remains to be seen whether he can help Benji and pursue his aspirations for a better life simultaneously.

Top Boy fans may recognize lead Kane Robinson, who I’m sure is the selling point. For the most part, he turns in a solid lead performance, and I’m sure with the proper role in an mainstream film in the coming years, he will break out like this film’s director, Daniel Kaulya, did with Get Out. Jedaiah Bannerman is also impressive in his role and avoids angst-ridden ten.

Kaulya’s and Tavares’s direction has all the trimmings of a first-time director, and he tries to navigate the line between commercial appeal and a borderline art house flick. Usually, when a film uses a dystopian backdrop as its setting, it’s hit or miss. Thankfully, Kaulya doesn’t overdo it and keeps the film moving quickly.

While The Kitchen isn’t groundbreaking, it does show that Kaulya has talent behind the camera, and I look forward to his next film.

Final Grade: B

The Kitchen arrives on Netflix Friday, January 19th

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