The Menu is a remarkable thriller sauteed with a little comedy to deliver a confection that may not meet with delight with all moviegoers’ palettes, but if you’ve got a cynical streak, especially as it leans towards societal behaviours and elitism, this one will be met with a chef’s kiss.
The story follows a group of elites and supposed gastronomes on a dining experience unlike any other. A select group of twelve has been invited to dine at Hawthorn, an exclusive, private restaurant located on its own island.
Overseen by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) the evening promises gourmet surprises and tantalizing tastes of something a little darker as the themed evening begins to play out in a completely unexpected way for the guests, but one that makes sense in a society that is all comment, no substance, no respect, and no love.
Among the guests are Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), but there are connections between all the guests, though Margot seems to be the odd one out. Why? What does that mean? And what will the next course be?
Tensely shot, with a wonderful sense of humour running throughout, The Menu is a dark look at how even doing the thing you love can destroy you and simple joy can be wiped away by fame.
Equally funny and frightening, the film takes through appetizers and meals, ending with a flaming dessert.
Fiennes hasn’t been this terrifying since Harry Potter and he seems to really lean into the role of Slowik, and the surrounding cast which includes Judith Light and John Leguizamo are wonderfully enjoyable as they are at first lost in their own self-importance before discovering what is really going on.
Taylor-Joy is always a lot of fun to watch, a captivating performance as she spars with both Hoult and Fiennes shine. Hoult in particular seems to be having a great time as a food fan who is simply delighted to be on the island and wants to ask all manner of questions, prove his knowledge, and honestly seems to be a bit of a gatekeeper
Fun, dark, and surprising, The Menu hit the sweet spot for me, and I found myself content after my viewing, though oddly craving a really good cheeseburger.
From production design to editing, to performances, The Menu is a dark little thriller that entertains, and if you allow yourself to really dig into it, is a meal full of layers, meanings, and things to keep you thinking after the credits roll.
I dug it.