The Menu is the most deliciously dark film of the year that will have everyone salivating over its artfully decorated cuisine and laughing out loud through its regimented chaos. This amazing satire of the food industry, gourmet chef culture, and the societal class system is as delectable as syrup over pancakes. With its all-star cast and wonderfully sardonic screenplay on the top one percent, the madness and fun rain down from start to finish. Highly Recommended!
Mark Mylod has certainly made a name for himself in the HBO realm over the past few years by directing Ali G, Game of Thrones, and Succession. His attention to detail in telling fascinating stories with amazing characters is unparalleled and he's in perfect form with The Menu as a small group of wealthy elites who travel to a remote island in the Pacific Northwest that houses one of the world's greatest restaurants with unarguably the planet's best chef - Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). Slowik runs a tight ship with his baker's dozen team that lives on the island with him. Like every dinner he serves, a story and meaning go with each course, but this time around, the experience has been meticulously planned for a uniquely specific purpose for the guests.
Among the patrons are a foodie fanboy (Nicholas Hoult) and his last-minute arm candy (Anya Taylor-Joy), an uber-wealthy older couple who has dined at the restaurant titled Hawthorne a dozen times, three young repulsive businessmen, a restaurant critic who can't enjoy what she loves anymore (Janet McTeer from Ozark), and an aging actor (John Leguizamo). Little does anyone know, but Chef Slowik and his cooks have specially planned a tasting menu that will no doubt drive his eaters out of their minds and come to terms with their lot in life.
As each course is perfectly served, the realizations and torture grow more personal and impending. Slowik's demeanor never goes out of control, but he rather transforms into something more sinister and demonic - similar to Fiennes' portrayal of Amon Goeth in Schindler's List. Seth Reiss and Will Tracy's script not only allows for Slowik's anger towards his patrons but also himself, as he's forgotten how to enjoy cooking for pleasure. And Fiennes' performances are worthy of the James Beard award for his terrifying calmness and strict focus in punishing everyone in front of him, including himself. The rest of the cast is brilliantly funny, but it's Anya Taylor-Joy's role that acts as the conduit for the audience here and she just owns the screen every time she's on it, perfectly complementing Fiennes' persona.
The Menu blends its dark comedy and horror ingredients into a triumphant mixture of class system satire and restaurant culture. The thrills are at an all-time high and the comedy is so uncomfortably funny that there's no possible scenario of looking away in awkwardness. This is one exquisite film. It's delightful, it's delicious, and it's to die for. Highly Recommended!