This heartfelt film, co-directed by Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, features an interesting mix of ingredients. It is set in a chaotic housing estate in a near-future London, known as “the Kitchen.” The movie draws inspiration from French banlieue films by directors Mathieu Kassovitz and Ladj Ly, while also incorporating elements of postmodern alienation seen in Total Recall and Blade Runner. However, it also has a touch of sentimental realism in its portrayal of a family drama. Despite its impressive action sequences, the film’s finale felt somewhat constrained and predictable.
The Kitchen setting itself is tremendously fabricated on screen, with top-notch special effects work; it is a spectacularly rundown housing block surrounded on all sides by glitzy new apartment buildings for the heartless better off. The city authorities have in fact decided on the Kitchen’s demolition and high-handedly ordered residents to leave, but the people are refusing on the grounds that this is where they have built their community and homes – for all its poverty, there is a bustling, vivid atmosphere.
Izi, portrayed by actor and musician Kane Robinson, is a diligent individual who works for a rather unsettling eco-funeral company called Life After Life. The company offers to combine ashes with seedlings to create a commemorative plant. Despite being aware of the harsh living conditions in the Kitchen, Izi is striving to save up for a contemporary apartment in the extensive property development that is contributing to the Kitchen’s challenges. The film cleverly highlights the eerie atmosphere present in both the apartments and the funeral plant gardens.
While working, Izi observes a routine service being held in the sterile chapel-like memorial areas of the facility for a woman he used to date. The woman’s troubled teenage son, Benji (also known as Jedaiah Bannerman), is the sole mourner and a fellow resident of the Kitchen. Izi and Benji form an uneasy friendship across generational lines, both aware of unspoken possibilities. As tensions rise in the Kitchen and armed authorities prepare to take control, Benji must choose between aligning with radical troublemakers or staying with compassionate but flawed Izi. Meanwhile, Izi must also make a decision about his potential future with Benji.
The movie features some high-budget action scenes, including the theft of a food delivery van and a robbery at a luxurious jewelry store. These scenes are visually impressive and highlight the issue of inequality. The dynamic between Izi and Benji is portrayed with a more serious tone, although there are some moments of comedy, such as when Izi has to navigate through automated phone prompts while trying to pay his deposit for an apartment. Overall, this film is thought-provoking and engaging.