In “The Kitchen,” writer-director Andrea Berloff’s three women anti-heroes flip the mob-movie script when they take control of the criminal racket that runs the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in ’70s New York. But one gangster-film hallmark remains omnipresent: violence.
While Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss participate in dismemberment, blood, and graphic gun violence, Berloff said she took lengths to portray those brutal acts in a less-glorified light.
“I was very conscious about how I was creating the violence,” she said at a post-screening Q&A in Los Angeles this week. “I did not let the women go to firearms training because I wanted them, when they held the guns, to look awkward. I didn’t want the guns to look cool.”
Berloff also opted to crank the volume of the gunshot sound effects, which she hoped would make the audience jump.
“I wanted you to notice the gunshots going by,” she said. “I think we’ve gotten (desensitized) to it, especially in movies. We shouldn’t be — we should be shocked every time.”
And there was a moral to Berloff’s story: The character most possessed by a violent lifestyle suffered the worst fate.
“I set out to say something about the violence,” she said. “This life has consequences.”
Berloff spoke after a screening hosted earlier this week by Women in Entertainment and the Writers Guild of America West in advance of Friday’s wide release of “The Kitchen.”
The New Line Cinema movie marks Berloff’s directorial debut. She made her feature screenwriting debut with Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center,” and earned an Oscar nod for her work co-writing “Straight Outta Compton.”
Widely panned by critics, “The Kitchen” is actually a comic-book movie: It’s based on Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s Vertigo/DC miniseries of the same name. Berloff made some tweaks, including re-imagining one of the wives (Haddish) as a black woman and touching on the strife that comes with her marriage to an Irish mobster in ‘70s New York.