"The Kitchen" (2023) Ending Explained: Dystopian Reflections

"The Kitchen" unfolds in the gritty backdrop of a dystopian London, painting a vivid portrait of a housing estate called "The Kitchen." This riveting movie directed by Kibwe Tavares and starring Daniel Kaluuya delves into the harsh realities of a community fighting against the government's eviction notice. The film introduces us to Izi, portrayed by Kane Robinson, a resident of The Kitchen, navigating the challenges of a world marked by limited resources and impending change.

The central mystery that sets the stage for much of the narrative revolves around Benji, a 12-year-old boy whose father's identity becomes a bitter reminder of unanswered questions.

Plot Summary of "The Kitchen"

In the heart of a dystopian London, "The Kitchen" unfolds against the backdrop of a society grappling with limited resources and an uncertain future. The movie introduces us to Izi, our protagonist, residing in the dilapidated housing estate known as "The Kitchen." The desire to escape this challenging environment sets the stage for Izi's journey.

Dystopian London - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

As Izi prepares for the day in this gritty version of London, we witness his eagerness to leave behind the struggles of The Kitchen for a more comfortable life in Buena Vida, a promised land of better living conditions. His dream of a one-room apartment becomes a testimony to the aspirations of many in this dystopian landscape.

Izi's daily life takes an unexpected turn as he works at the ecological funeral home, Life After Life. This unique establishment transforms the remains of the deceased into soil to cultivate trees, catering to those who cannot afford traditional burial plots. The portrayal of this unconventional job adds a layer of complexity to Izi's character, offering a glimpse into the challenges faced by low-income residents in The Kitchen.

The narrative gains momentum when Izi encounters Benji, a 12-year-old boy whose mother has recently passed away. This meeting becomes a turning point, as Izi, initially reluctant, invites Benji to stay with him in The Kitchen. The community around them faces a looming threat of eviction, intensifying the stakes for Izi and Benji.

Amidst the struggles and uncertainties, a police raid shakes the settlement, highlighting the harsh reality of "illegally occupying privately owned property." Izi's decision to let Benji stay with him becomes displays the complexities of human connections in the face of adversity.

Izi leaves Benji Behind

The evolving relationship between Izi and Benji takes a compelling turn as they grapple with personal dilemmas and the harsh realities of their dystopian world. As their bond deepens, Benji reveals a crucial piece of information – his mother's insights into Izi's identity. This revelation adds an unexpected layer to their relationship, weaving a thread of familial connection that transcends the surface of their current circumstances.

Izi on bike and Benji standing - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

However, the narrative takes a dramatic twist when Izi, faced with a crucial decision about his living situation, chooses to abandon Benji. Izi moves to a new, single occupancy apartment, leaving Benji behind. Opting against a double residence and the ensuing wait, Izi sets forth alone into a new chapter of his life.

Meanwhile, Benji, left to navigate the intricacies of The Kitchen on his own, seeks solace in the familiar embrace of Staples' gang. Staples, the charismatic leader, welcomes Benji back into their fold. The dynamic shifts as Benji becomes entangled once more in the world he sought to escape. The gang's pursuit of revenge, anchored in biblical verses, paves the way for a violent confrontation that threatens to consume The Kitchen.

The community's DJ, Lord Kitchener - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

But the repercussions of Izi's choice reverberate through the community as police raids intensify, leading to tragic events, including the killing of the community's DJ, Lord Kitchener.

Izi's Recognization of Belonging

The narrative takes a somber turn with the tragic demise of DJ Lord Kitchener during a brutal police raid. Benji, grappling with the aftermath of the raid, finds himself drawn into the orbit of Staples' gang—a decision fueled by a desire for retribution against the upper class responsible for Lord Kitchener's death. This adds a layer of complexity to the storyline, as Benji becomes entangled in a world of heists and destruction.

Staples and Benji - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

Staples, Benji, and their group embark on a riot in London, seeking revenge for Lord Kitchener's killing and the police attacks on The Kitchen's residents. Simultaneously, Izi undergoes a profound realization as he grapples with the consequences of abandoning Benji. The choice to move into a shiny new single-occupancy flat becomes a pivotal moment in the narrative, showcasing his internal conflicts.

As chaos unfolds, Izi's realization dawns when he attends Lord Kitchener's funeral, recognizing that the fancy new apartment can never replace the sense of belonging he feels in The Kitchen. Fueled by regret and a newfound understanding of the importance of family, Izi makes a heartfelt return to Benji.

The Ending: Reunion and Redemption

Staples, driven by a desire for retaliation, propels the gang into a daring break-in at an affluent apartment block. Benji, however, recoils from the path of violence, recoiling from the repercussions of their actions. Seeking refuge in his mother's abandoned home, Benji's journey converges with Izi's changed stance. A confrontation ensues, laden with the weight of abandonment and shifting priorities.

Izi returns to The Kitchen, marking the end of his internal struggle and the beginning of a new chapter with Benji. The decision to abandon the allure of a single-occupancy flat showcases the resilience of familial bonds over material possessions.

Izi in the Garden - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

The heartfelt apology from Izi to Benji becomes a turning point, bridging the gap caused by past decisions. Izi not only apologizes but brings closure by returning the memorial plant, an olive branch in the form of a plant grown from Benji's mother's stolen ashes. The shared act of planting her somewhere safe becomes a symbol of reconciliation and solidarity.

Amidst the evolving chaos, a police raid disrupts the fragile peace. The community, bound by a shared history of hardships, rises in resistance. The chaos outside intensifies, with Staples and his group aiding residents and staging a protest against the oppressive forces. The beleaguered estate becomes a battleground, with Staples leading a desperate defense.

In a defining moment, Izi intervenes to protect Benji from a police officer's aggression, solidifying their bond. The residents, united in defiance, pelter officers with food, bottles, and debris—a symbolic act of protest against the injustices faced by The Kitchen-folk.

As the tumult reaches its zenith, Benji confronts Izi about their relationship, asking Izi, "Are you my dad?" The silence speaks volumes as Izi's tearful eyes and a subtle nod allude to a connection beyond words. Yet, the uncertainty persists, with Benji's response encapsulating the ambiguity of their future.

Izi's nods, leave the door open for the possibility of a father-son connection. The uncertainty encapsulates the ever-evolving nature of relationships in the face of adversity.

The movie concludes with forceful bangs on the door and a mysterious crash. The credits roll, underscoring the complexity of human connections and the enduring spirit of The Kitchen—a place where family, resilience, and the pursuit of justice triumph against the backdrop of a dystopian London.

The Door Knock: Theories

As the credits roll, the resounding knocks on the door prompts speculation about the mysterious visitors. The door, symbolizing the threshold between order and chaos, opens up a realm of possibilities, each contributing to the suspense that lingers in the final moments.

London Police - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

One plausible scenario points towards the authoritative presence of the police. The relentless series of raids and attacks on The Kitchen suggest a culmination—a final attempt to quell the perceived rebellion within this dystopian enclave. The increased preparation and force imply that the police are determined to assert their control over the area they deem illegally occupied. This time, however, the people of The Kitchen stand united, embodying the collective spirit that Lord Kitchener envisioned.

Another intriguing perspective contemplates revenge from within The Kitchen. Izi's decision to distance himself from the community, opting to live with the elites, might have fueled resentment. Those who felt neglected or abandoned by Izi could have seized the opportunity for retribution, knocking on the door as an act of collective retaliation. The themes of unity and defiance against oppression, prevalent throughout the movie, find resonance in this possible narrative.

However, a more straightforward interpretation aligns with the thematic elements of the narrative—the police making a forceful entrance. Their anger intensifies as The Kitchen's residents refuse to yield to the initial attacks. The symbolism is clear: the police are there to assert dominance, disregarding individual nuances. Despite Izi's changed circumstances and newfound living arrangements, he remains, in the eyes of the police, just another resident of The Kitchen deserving whatever consequences they bring.

Is Izi Benji's Real Father?

The unspoken bond shared by Izi and Benji becomes the crux of their relationship, evident in Izi's recurring acts of kindness and his consistent return to Benji despite earlier abandonment. The palpable connection they feel toward each other serves as a silent affirmation of their familial ties.

Izi and Benji - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

Crucially, the film refrains from a definitive DNA test, opting instead for the characters' intuitive understanding of their relationship. Benji's revelation about his mother's hint – that his father resides in The Kitchen and works at Life After Life – adds a layer of clarity to the familial dynamics. Izi emerges as the likely candidate, substantiating the subtle cues throughout the storyline.

In the poignant climax, when Benji directly asks Izi if he is his father, Izi responds with a nod, cementing the unspoken acknowledgment of their familial connection. The absence of a formal DNA test becomes inconsequential in the face of their shared experiences and unspoken understanding.

The film concludes with a powerful exchange, as Izi, in an act of acceptance, poses a crucial question to Benji: "Would you want me to be your dad?" Benji's response, a tentative "Let's see how it goes," encapsulates the essence of their evolving relationship. Izi, in agreement, signifies his readiness to embrace the role of a father and substantiate this acceptance through caring for Benji.

In the absence of scientific validation, "The Kitchen" beautifully underscores the significance of emotional bonds and the acceptance of chosen family, rendering the question of DNA testing irrelevant in the face of their shared journey.

The Kitchen's Battle: Resistance, Revenge, and Return

The ongoing resistance against police eviction becomes a powerful symbol of unity within "The Kitchen". Lord Kitchener's rallying cry, "They can't stop we," echoes through the community, emphasizing the strength found in collective action. The film raises compelling questions about the fundamental right to exist, challenging the societal norms that force low-income individuals off their land, denying them a dignified life and death.

Staples with his gang - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

Lord Kitchener's death becomes a turning point, sparking Staples' call for revenge. Quoting Leviticus 24:19-22, Staples declares, "This is war," reflecting the escalating tensions within the community. The film delves into the consequences of revenge as Staples and his gang target affluent apartment blocks, highlighting the destructive cycle of violence.

Benji's rejection of violence and his subsequent return to The Kitchen stand out as a crucial narrative arc. The film portrays his realization that violence is not the path he wishes to tread, symbolizing a break from Staples' gang and a return to the community that represents a warmer home. The rejection of violence becomes a powerful statement against the cycle of revenge.

The Kitchen's exploration of gentrification and societal debts culminates in a poignant commentary on the importance of coexistence on publicly-owned land. The film challenges the notion of paying for the right to exist, emphasizing the need for a collective understanding of community and shared resources.

As the film concludes, lingering questions remain about the dystopian London and the characters' future. The directors leave the possibility of further exploration open, hinting at the potential for a TV series. The film's open-ended conclusion invites contemplation on the unresolved aspects of the story, leaving room for interpretation and speculation.

Unanswered Questions and Future Possibilities

The peculiar concept of turning people into plants at Life After Life raises questions about the underlying motives and the connection to the broader theme of gentrification. An interpretation suggests a symbolic link between the inability of low-income individuals to afford a dignified place to live or be buried and the transformation into trees planted "somewhere." The revelation that this "somewhere" is the trash further underscores the harsh reality that without financial means, one's existence lacks dignity, both in life and death.

Izi enters the ecological funeral home, Life After Life - The Kitchen 2023 - Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

"The Kitchen" provocatively challenges societal norms, questioning why individuals are born into a world burdened by the debt of merely existing. The film advocates for coexistence on publicly-owned land, challenging the prevailing notion of paying for the right to live on private property.

The protagonist, Izi, embodies a journey of self-discovery and the consequences of refusing to acknowledge the collective "we." His separation from The Kitchen and immersion in a supposedly upscale lifestyle only reveal the falseness of societal constructs. The cinematography contrasts his new, seemingly luxurious flat with the familiar angles of his old space, highlighting the lack of true luxury. Izi's realization, as he peers through a screen attempting to replicate nature, underscores the emptiness of his chosen path.

The film's open-ended conclusion leaves significant aspects unresolved, particularly the nature of the dystopian London portrayed and the characters' future. The absence of details about the authoritarian government and its plans for the city adds an intriguing layer of ambiguity. The fate of Izi and Benji remains uncertain, inviting viewers to ponder their next steps.

Co-directors Tavares and Kaluuya acknowledge the potential for further exploration through a TV series or sequel. The rich tapestry of characters within "The Kitchen" offers diverse narratives to follow, keeping the door open for future storytelling.

Wrap Up

"The Kitchen" stands out for its exploration of thought-provoking themes, challenging societal constructs and delving into the consequences of individual choices within a dystopian landscape. The film's emphasis on collective identity over individual isolation, coupled with its symbolic representation of societal struggles, adds a layer of depth to the storytelling canvas.

In acknowledging the unique aspects and themes explored in "The Kitchen," it becomes apparent that the film serves as a conversation starter, a reflection on societal norms, and an exploration of human connection in the face of adversity.

Watch "The Kitchen" on Netflix.

The Kitchen (2023) Ending Explained Dystopian Reflections

Author: Richie Davis

Author/Writer - Richie Davis

Introducing Richie Davis! Armed with a Bachelor's in Journalism, Richie's career journey has been a reel adventure. From editing videos to crafting compelling narratives, he's now our go-to guru for all things cinematic. When he's not busy diving into the deep end of Movie mysteries, you'll find him swimming through the latest releases or binge watching TV Shows, dissecting flicks like a true Entertainment detective.

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