Have you ever watched an episode of “Succession” and thought, “Gee, I would love it if there was a bit more comedy and Logan Roy just decides to go psychotic on all of his family and friends?” Well, does Searchlight Pictures have the movie for you!
On a remote island where the elite dine at an exclusive restaurant called Hawthrone, celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a multicourse meal for his special guests full of molecular gastronomy goodness. Food porn at its most delectable, Slowik treats his patrons to an elegant dinner that would make any Instagram filter flutter with envy. However, there’s something amiss with every course served, and the tension in the dining room boils over as the cuisine turns out to be more blood rare than well done.
Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult appear to be the youngest couple invited to dine at Hawthorne. With them is an all-star cast that includes Hong Chau as Slowik’s devoted employee, Judith Light as a pompous food critic, and John Leguizamo as a needy Hollywood actor. While some idolize athletes, movie stars, and musicians, these people worship this chef for his magical ability to elevate the dining experience. Taylor-Joy’s character of Margot seems out of place from the start, not fitting in with the elitist group that has vied to get reservations at the restaurant for months. As Slowik’s madness rises, Margot does what she can to retain some level of sanity in a room full of idiots and attempts to decipher if everyone is connected in some fashion.
Like “Triangle of Sadness” from earlier this year, director Mark Mylod does a fantastic job at using “The Menu” to comment on the audacity of the wealthy and highbrow social climbers who stop at nothing to feel important. For so long in “The Menu,” Slowik’s guests don’t seem to be in on the joke until his crazy is fully displayed. Similar to J.K. Simmons’ work in “Whiplash,” Fiennes is an excellent villain full of strength and determination to centralize the focus on how maniacal his character can be, primarily because of what his wealthy customers have done to him. Think Gordon Ramsay if the celebrity chef decides to go all “Scarface” on his contestants and clientele one day.
But the story of “The Menu” isn’t entirely on display through the dramatic turn the film takes after the guests begin to eat. The madness is slowly presented with offbeat ludicrous tones to the point that you keep trying to guess who the true villains of this movie are. It is wildly entertaining, deranged as all get out, and true to form as one of the best satires in recent memory.
Anya Taylor-Joy is extraordinary as the lead of our epic dining experience. Fiennes is deliciously menacing to watch as his character exposes the flaws of the people in the room with every course served. The theatrical presentation of the meals throughout the film is exquisite, and with every shattering clap and call out of “YES CHEF” uttered by his staff, the movie gets tighter and more uncomfortable. The ending ties everything together conceptually so that Slowik will get his point across by the time dessert is served.
“The Menu” is best explained by Hong Chau’s Elsa when she whispers to one of the guests during dinner: “You’ll eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.”
Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟🎟