The Menu

The Menu

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Satirising the rich is a popular topic with filmmakers (we’ve just had ‘Triangle of Sadness’ in a similar vein), and what better way to satirise this group of people than through the prism of the art of fine dining.  Fine dining is a space ripe for satire, with the eye watering prices, pretentious presentations and a strange idolisation/obsession with top chefs, and it is beautifully skewered in the wildly entertaining ‘The Menu’.

Directed by Mark Mylod, better known for his work on the TV series ‘Succession’, it focuses on a group of wealthy individuals who have paid a large sum of money to dine at the exclusive fine dining establishment Hawthorne’s, run by famous chef (at least in these circles) Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) on an isolated island. The guests include a restaurant critic (Janet McTeer), a movie star (John Leguizamo), a group of rich bankers (names) and Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler, a wealthy food snob who is obsessed with and desperate for the validation of Chef Slowik. He is accompanied by Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy, as good as ever), who is a replacement on the booking for Tyler’s ex-girlfriend and appears to be the only person who seems to see through the pretentiousness of the overall experience.

We follow the guests evening at Hawthorne’s as we go through courses that become increasingly absurd, as the guests realise the specially curated menu has been made specifically with them in mind. At one stage, the excellent Hong Chau’s maitre d’ whispers in one guests ear ‘You’ll eat less than you desire and more than you deserve’, which sums up what these guests have paid large sums of money for – they will eat what they’re given and they’ll like it. I can imagine the writers had a lot of fun creating some of the courses, which regularly lead to some great laugh out loud moments, and as someone who has dined at a few fine dining establishments over the years, it absolutely nails some of the more ridiculous aspects of these meals (the over the top presentation, overly mannered service).

It is a terrific ensemble with every actor and actress cast perfectly, but it is led brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes, who is never more scary than when he is staring intently with an apparent lack of humour – something we get a lot of here. It does falter somewhat in the third act and I felt there was perhaps a sharper and more incisive way to conclude the story than what we end up getting, but take little away from ‘The Menu’, because this is a very entertaining and funny movie, with some absolutely brilliant dialogue and its social commentary on point.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Mark Mylod

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, John Leguizamo, Reed Birney, Judith Light, Paul Adelstein, Aimee Carrero, Arturo Castro and Rob Yang

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