The Kitchen ending spoilers follow.
The Kitchen is a London-set dystopian movie where a housing estate rebels against the government’s eviction notice, but the biggest mystery is at a smaller scale — who is Benji’s father?
Now available on Netflix, Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya’s movie follows Izi (played by Top Boy star Kane Robinson), a lonely and slightly cynical guy who can’t wait to move out of the housing estate he lives in (called The Kitchen) and change it for a luxury one-room apartment in a nicer part of the city.
However, while working his regular shift at the eco-funeral company Life After Life, he meets Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), the 12-year-old son of a former girlfriend who has recently died.
Izi can’t bring himself to leave the kid on his own, so he invites Benji over to his place in The Kitchen. Suddenly, life starts taking a different meaning, while the community around them fight tooth and nail to keep their homes.
Does Benji find his father? And what happens with The Kitchen and its residents? We delve into the ending of The Kitchen.
The Kitchen ending explained
Izi and Benji’s paths separate as Izi chooses to move into his new individual apartment rather than applying for a double residence, which would have taken him back onto the long waiting list.
All alone, Benji reunites with the gang that first took him in The Kitchen before Izi’s intervention. The gang’s leader, Staples (Hope Ikpoku Jnr), welcomes him back.
The residents are still resisting the police’s attempts to evict them, with every neighbour protecting each other and offering warnings every time the authorities show up on their doorstep. However, tensions escalate with the latest raid.
The community’s DJ and moral guide, Lord Kitchener (played by former Arsenal footballer Ian Wright), is taken by the authorities. Not long after, he is dead.
This is a turning point for Izi, who joins the mourning at Lord Kitchener’s funeral while working in Life After Life’s facilities.
Back in the housing estate, Staples decides it’s time for revenge.
He quotes Leviticus 24:19-22 from the Bible: “And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.”
“This is war,” he adds.
Benji joins Staples’ band as they break into an affluent apartment block, but he instantly regrets it, rejecting this path of violence. He runs away and hides in his mother’s home, which he left at the beginning of the story to go look for his estranged father.
Izi, who knows the apartment from his time dating Benji’s mother, finds him there. Benji has not forgiven him for abandoning him, for choosing to live in his “dream” solo apartment rather than stay with him.
But Izi is not the same person he was when this story started, and he has changed his mind regarding Benji. Lord Kitchener’s death was the last straw for him to realise he has been selfish and detached from his neighbours’ suffering.
Izi gives Benji the plant that is supposedly growing from his mother’s ashes, stolen from Life After Life. They go back to The Kitchen together to plant it in the communal terrace, a much warmer home (for now, at least) than the eco company Izi works for.
Unfortunately, they get caught in the last police raid.
They hide in Izi’s old apartment as a war erupts outside. It seems to be the end for this rebellious housing estate. Staples is leading the last line of defence, but it’s not looking good for them.
Looking at the situation from the window, Benji asks Izi the question that has been floating around them since they met.
“Are you my dad?” he asks.
Izi’s teary eyes might be enough of an answer. He also seems to nod affirmatively, but he doesn’t say anything.
“Would you want me to be?,” he asks back instead.
Benji thinks it over for a moment. “Let’s just see how it goes,” he replies.
The clanging outside grows louder as the police try to knock the flat’s door down. Then the screen goes black.
The ending of The Kitchen leaves some questions unanswered, particularly regarding this dystopian London that the story is set in. The movie doesn’t offer details about the authoritarian government leading the country or what their plans are for the city.
It also doesn’t reveal what’s going to happen to Izi and Benji now.
When asked by NME about carrying on with the story in a TV series, co-directors Tavares and Kaluuya left the door open.
“I do see the potential in that because there’s so many other characters you could follow,” said Tavares.
“But at the moment, it’s taken such a long time to create this film that we want to just celebrate it. We both feel quite proud,” he clarified.
Kaluuya was confident about working again with Tavares, whether it’s in a sequel to The Kitchen or in a new project.
“We’ve learned quite a lot from each other. I know a lot about VFX and architectural render now. Kibwe’s learned a lot about working with actors and how to craft a story. So yeah, let me see what we got next.”
The Kitchen is now available on Netflix.
Deputy Movies Editor, Digital Spy
Mireia (she/her) has been working as a movie and TV journalist for over seven years, mostly for the Spanish magazine Fotogramas.
Her work has been published in other outlets such as Esquire and Elle in Spain, and WeLoveCinema in the UK.
She is also a published author, having written the essay Biblioteca Studio Ghibli: Nicky, la aprendiz de bruja about Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service.
During her years as a freelance journalist and film critic, Mireia has covered festivals around the world, and has interviewed high-profile talents such as Kristen Stewart, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal and many more. She’s also taken part in juries such as the FIPRESCI jury at Venice Film Festival and the short film jury at Kingston International Film Festival in London.
Now based in the UK, Mireia joined Digital Spy in June 2023 as Deputy Movies Editor.