Netflix’s ‘The Kitchen’ follows the story of Izi, who is desperate to get out of his current living situation. His home for the moment is the Kitchen, the only remaining social housing estate in a dystopian London. Unlike the other residents of the Kitchen, Izi doesn’t feel any sense of loyalty or responsibility towards the place. However, when Benji comes into his life, he is forced to change his point of view. The bond deepens between the two of them, which makes one wonder about the true nature of their relationship. Is Benji Izi’s son? SPOILERS AHEAD
Izi and Benji’s Blood Relation is Not Confirmed in The Kitchen
One of the questions threaded through the narrative of ‘The Kitchen’ is whether or not Izi Benji’s father and the film intentionally skirts around the answer, never giving the audience a concrete revelation. But that’s what makes the dynamic between Izi and Benji so much deeper.
Izi comes across Benji at his mother’s funeral. He recognizes the name of the woman and goes to her funeral service, only to discover that her son is the only one in attendance. Izi’s presence at the funeral makes Benji wonder if his father has finally shown up in his life. He never met his father, but his mother told him a couple of things about him, like the fact that he lived in the Kitchen and worked at Life After Life. Izi checks both boxes while also fulfilling Benji’s expectation that his father would show up at his mother’s funeral.
For Benji, it is all but confirmed, but Izi is not so quick to accept the fact. He tries to brush off the kid but then takes pity on him and takes him for a ride. Later, when he finds Benji with Staples and his gang, he warns the boy and lets him stay at his place in the Kitchen. Despite Izi’s hesitance to keep Benji in his orbit, the two of them become more and more tangled as the days go by. Izi, too, develops a fondness for Benji, but he still doesn’t admit that he is Benji’s father.
The crossroads in Izi’s life comes when he finally gets the single-occupancy flat he’d been waiting for. By this time, he has started considering the possibility of keeping Benji with him, but he’d have to stay back in the Kitchen, which he cannot stand for one more day. The fact that Izi leaves Benji for the flat (at first, at least) shows that the two might not be related by blood. Izi took in Benji because he felt for the kid. Like him, the boy didn’t have anyone else left in the world, and despite his detachment from the Kitchen and its people, Izi still had a sense of community in him, which didn’t allow him to see Izi join the gang.
The fondness that he develops for the kid is because of the newfound sense of family and companionship that Benji brings. But at the end of the day, he is not Izi’s son. So, when he has to choose between Benji and the freedom from the Kitchen, he chooses the latter. He convinces himself that Izi is not his responsibility. He tried to look out for the kid for as long as he could, but he had to move on when the opportunity finally presented itself.
Of course, this feeling doesn’t last for long, and after attending Lord Kitchener’s funeral, Izi realizes what family and community mean. He has to accept that he cannot let go of Benji now and must be with him instead of abandoning him. Even if he is not his father. When Izi returns, Benji once again asks him if he is his father. Izi could have said, considering that he really does know whether or not he is Benji’s father. He could have given him the answer and let Benji decide if he still wanted to be with him. Or, he could have said “yes” and let Benji hear what he wanted. But the situation was more complicated than that.
Whether or not they are related by blood doesn’t matter anymore. The people in the Kitchen are not related by blood to every single person, but that doesn’t stop them from loving one another and looking out for each other, no matter their differences. Izi had distanced himself from this for a very long time, but with Benji, he is reminded of that part of himself. So, even if he is not Benji’s father, it doesn’t matter to him. But what Benji wants him to be matters to him. So, that’s what he asks him. Do you want me to be your father, he says, instead of a clear yes or no?
When Benji sees they’ll see how it goes, he has a tone of relief, which indicates that for him, as well, the answer doesn’t really matter anymore. Perhaps he put up the question because he thought that the answer would also allow Izi some clarity over what he wants. He turns out to be right. Izi seems relieved by Benji’s answer, and it confirms for both of them that no matter what happens from now on, they will stick together. That it doesn’t matter whether Izi is Benji’s biological father because they are each other’s family, and nothing will change that now.