The Menu

  • 26 Nov - 02 Dec, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Culinary dramas usually exhilarate your senses with their presentation and ability to conjure up the food’s aroma, taste, and texture. But, director Mark Mylod’s fare is not a staple diet. Far from it. The satire begins as a visual treat, taking the audience to an exotic, remote island that’s home to the celebrity chef Julian Slowik’s (Ralph Fiennes) super-exclusive restaurant, Hawthorne. An eclectic ensemble of elite food lovers gets an invitation for an evening with a special menu of dishes and theatrics. Among them is a young couple, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). While the former is a fanboy obsessed with Chef Slowik, the latter has her head firmly on her shoulders and doesn’t flinch from calling out the rich folk’s pretentiousness.

Films shot in a single location put the entire spotlight on the treatment and performances, and The Menu is impressive on every account. The movie will gobsmack the audience with its twisted vibe, and even without serving much gore can make your stomach churn. It’s one of those warped outings where horror does not have a face. On the one hand, it’s a social commentary on pretentiousness and how basic even the rich can be – name-dropping, lying, faking their clout, and whatnot. On the other hand, it’s a thrilling tale of a sinister chef who introduces the bunch to their true selves with wicked glee and holds the reins of their fate. And there’s the mysterious and middle-class Margot – defiant and brave, capable of defeating Slowik at his own game. Tyler represents starstruck followers desperate to impress their idols and dying for validation from them.

Hawthorne’s ominous ambience is perfectly cinematographed throughout the 88 minutes of the film’s runtime. Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have a tight grip on the deliciously dark screenplay. The film is replete with unpredictable plot twists. The wine and dine jargon delights despite seeming uppity. As the army commander-like chef, Ralph Fiennes’s Slowik belongs to hell’s kitchen in more ways than one. The actor’s face-off with Anya Taylor-Joy (who delivers a formidable performance) will make you gape in amazement. As Slowik’s right-hand Elsa, Hong Chau is outstanding with her wry humour and disquieting demeanour.

The Menu slows down a bit after a point and becomes drab but picks itself up quickly. The film will especially appeal to fans of all things cynical. The sinuous vein will spook you out!