The Menu Review – Dark Humor and deep cuts with a dash of Anya Taylor Joy
Here’s my review for The Menu which is directed by Mark Mylod and stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Reed Birney, Judith Light, John Leguizamo and is now streaming on Disney+.
The Menu follows the story of a group of elites that get to an exclusive island where they get invited to try out a new set of courses prepared by Julian Slowik (Fiennes). Everybody’s hyped up because he’s introducing a new “menu” only to find that they are the “menu”. Things get a bit complicated because one of the guests is Margot (Taylor-Joy), a lady brought along by Tyler (Hoult) as a substitute because the original guest broke up with him. The thing with this restaurant and new menu is that everybody invited for this batch has caused Slowik and everything he stands for pain and disillusionment and now he wants to get even – BIG TIME and the only payment he will take is the lives of his latest guests.
To break this down for you, the film is part “Saw” with the terror and suspense minus the gore, part “Bullet Train” with themes of revenge and retribution and part “Chef”.
Ralph Fiennes is astounding in this. He’s part Jigsaw from Saw and part suave chef. His arrogance is aggrandizing and at the same time he provides moments of great insight both to the audience and to the character themselves. He’s also damn scary without the need to do anything other than speak his mind and go totally dark with his thoughts. He kinda reminds me of Hannibal Lecter actually.
Hong Chau is a familiar face for me thanks to her role in the film Downsizing opposite Matt Damon. Remember that movie? She was quirky and cute and for this film, she nailed it as a creepy Maître d’hôtel. She does get her own jumpscare too. But the subtlety in her acting.
Nicholas Hoult as Tyler is great because he’s an asshole and there’s this one moment where we see his brilliance in full display as well as his character’s folly and hubris. I like that while chaos is erupting everywhere, he’s just mouthing off and fanboying over Slowik’s work, fully aware of what will happen to him at the end of the night.
Anya Taylor Joy is the PLOT honestly. She’s so refreshing to watch whether its scenes where she’s required to be elegant and sophisticated to scenes where she’s in utter chaos and confusion. Plus she’s so pretty; sorry, I just have to inject that here. I also love the onscreen chemistry between Fiennes and her.
There’s a lot of great moments too, tense moments too that makes for solid entertainment. The thing with “The Menu” is that while it kinda feels and reads like the “Saw” films, it doesn’t do gore. It’s all about mental and psychological terror spiked with appetizing dishes
I also like some of the moments and dialogues like that bit about “cooking food to Eat” and “cooking food with love”. And then we get a verbal battle between chef Julian and Margot which ends in a rather satisfying ending which again, I don’t want to spoil.
Overall, “The Menu” is a fascinating take on restaurant culture, fine dining and the media and politics surrounding it all. It’s got a lot of ironies and dark humor that in some miraculous way gets nailed properly thanks to Fiennes’ acting. The problem I’m seeing here is that it may not just be for everybody and it could confuse a number of genre fans. It could have really shined if it picked like to elements and ran with it but three’s a crowd.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
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