A couple, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), travel to a coastal island in the Pacific Northwest to eat at an exclusive restaurant, Hawthorn, where the reclusive, globally celebrated Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish tasting menu for select special guests. Joining the couple are three young, already inebriated tech bros, Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro) and Dave (Mark St. Cyr), an older wealthy couple and repeat clients, Anne and Richard (Judith Light and Reed Birney), renowned restaurant critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) and her slavish magazine editor Ted (Paul Adelstein), and a famous middle-aged movie star (John Leguizamo) with his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero). Hosted by the immaculately dressed front of house staff led by general Elsa (Hong Chau), the evening unfolds with increasing tension at each of the guest tables as secrets are revealed and unexpected courses are served. With wild and violent events occurring, Slowik’s motivation begins to rattle the diners as it becomes increasingly apparent that his elaborate menu is designed to catalyze to a shocking finale.By: Nicholas Ruhrkraut | November 18th, 2022
With a year of outstanding and entertaining horror releases, The Menu does its best to be a part of the gang. While it doesn’t fully go there, it should play well with audiences, even for a post-Halloween release. It stands apart from other films about cooking like the drama ‘Burnt’ or even the heartwarming comedy ‘Chef’ by creating more of a satire of the foodie culture with a twisted spin.
The film immediately follows Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), an over-the-top food snob, and his girlfriend Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), who really could care less about this soon-to-be extravagant meal that is supposed to transform their taste buds, on their way to a secluded island for an exclusive dinner. Tyler knows every ounce of information about Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his techniques in the kitchen. After the guests get an intimate, yet selective tour of the island’s facilities, they take their seats as the wine starts to flow and the courses are introduced. An unsettling terror creeps in with the chef’s militant cadence, a discordant score, and mysterious glances, especially in Elsa’s (Hong Chau) calm yet tenacious control over the night’s proceedings. Once Chef reveals the master plan and the theme that binds all of the menu’s dishes, the chaos and thrill of an unforgettable night truly commences.
‘The Menu,’ whose master chef Mark Mylod also directed Shameless, Game of Thrones, and Succession, tries, but ultimately fails to be as expertly presented as the dishes themselves. The play of genres makes for a fun, thrilling ride but if you think too deeply about it, you’ll realize there isn’t much reasoning behind the madness. The way it twists consumerism with biting remarks of the culinary world could have found smarter and more nuanced ways to heighten the disappointing melodrama. The film leans on a few key items too strongly and shies away from fully coming together. While there are plenty of laughs and some shocking screams, don’t be surprised if you leave the theater unsatisfied and hungry for more.
'The Menu' opens in Theaters on November 18th, 2022.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Nicholas Ruhrkraut (Contributor) lives in New York City but is a Midwestern boy at heart. He loves discussing everything film on his podcast "Oscar Wild," cooking and baking at home, reading, and traveling.
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