The often pretentious and bad behaviour of chefs and their high-end diners has provided plenty of fodder for film makers.
While revenge is a theme of many such movies it’s doubtful any have taken payback as far The Menu.
Aptly described as both a horror movie and satirical black comedy, The Menu explores the action of chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) who has lost the passion for everything associated with his profession and is in search of revenge.
The ‘victims’ of his revenge are 12 specially selected guests who represent certain types of customers who have infuriated or disrespected him.
Each has paid $1250 a head to travel to the remote Hawthorne Island to eat at Slowik’s exclusive restaurant. It’s regarded as one of the best dining experiences in the country thanks to Slowik’s reputation as a culinary artist, an innovator and a perfectionist.
All his staff are devoted to him, including the rather scary and efficient restaurant manager Elsa (Hong Chau). All live with him on the island and the food served is produced onsite.
The 12 guests include older wealthy couple and repeat clients, Anne and Richard (Judith Light and Reed Birney), renowned restaurant critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) and her magazine editor Ted (Paul Adelstein) and three obnoxious young men – Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro) and Dave (Mark St. Cyr) who work for the tech billionaire who owns the restaurant. There’s also a famous middle-aged movie star (John Leguizamo) whose career is fading and his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero) and a silent woman in the corner.
And then there’s Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a culinary obsessive who thinks he knows far more about fine dining than he actually does and his date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). Margot wasn’t the partner originally nominated by Tyler and the reaction of Elsa and Slowik to her unscheduled appearance provides the first hint that all isn’t what it seems.
Margot is unlike all the other guests – she’s not privileged or pretentious and has no real interest in food. She treats with contempt comments from Slowik to diners such as they must “taste, savour relish — but don’t eat” the conceptual menu he’s prepared. She’s particularly bemused by the first couple of courses which include a bread course served without bread. Her attitude and the reaction of the other guests to the ridiculous and pompous descriptions of the food served provide plenty of laughs. The contrast between her thoughts and Tyler’s rapturous admiration for the food couldn’t be greater.
By the fourth course the mood of all the diners changes and The Menu becomes more of a horror movie than a comedy. As a result of a horrific event the guests realise the reason for their invites and their inability to escape their fate. The exception being Margot who comes up with a cunning plan.
Through a script which allows each of the diners to tell their stories we learn of their behavioural traits or attitudes that have resulted in Slowik targeting them. Thanks to the work of the actors portraying the diners some may have sympathy for Slowik’s action as there’s nothing really appealing about any of them with the exception of Margot.
Fiennes brilliantly portrays a perfectionist whose search for perfection has caused him great frustration, grief and eventually turned him into a psychopath. His interaction with Taylor-Joy is a highlight thanks to her portrayal of her character as a down to earth street-smart survivor.
While The Menu provides many laughs thanks to its biting portrayal of the fine dining world, the violence, especially in the second half of the movie, may cause some heartburn for those who prefer satire and humour over horror.
The Menu officially opens in cinemas around Australian on November 24.
*Photographs courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.
- movie, reviews
Subscribe My Newsletter
Unsubscribe at any time.