As a birthday gift, a girlfriend took me to a unique restaurant where cuisine was catered to our personal food tastes and served in numerous courses. It felt really fancy and odd, but I was totally into it. Needless to say, when I screened The Menu, I immediately was reminded of that experience and how it could’ve all gone wrong in an instant.
Hawthorne Island, a 12-acre self-contained farm-to-table paradise represents the pinnacle of exclusive eats, serving celebrities and billionaires who think nothing of forking out $1,250 a head. This particular evening, the clientele includes Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a devout foodie pilgrim, and his date, Margot (Anna Taylor-Joy), a doll always down for a free meal, a washed-up movie star (John Leguizamo), a tastemaking restaurant critic (Janet McTeer), and a trio of tech bros. What they all have in common are meaty secrets that each new dish hints at exposing. Margot seems the be the only one immune to Hawthorne’s menu of manipulation and the only one able to spot the vulnerability concealed beneath Chef’s cultivated air of superiority.
Once seated, guests are welcomed by Chef (Ralph Fiennes), who precedes each course with a monologue (rather lengthy ones, but interesting nonetheless). As he instructs to taste, rather than eat, they are reminded absolutely no photos are allowed. The true beauty of food lies in its ability to savor rather than devour.
Anna Taylor-Joy’s performance is exquisitely fabulous when paired with the intensely focused Fiennes and together they are a dish to be served with care and expertise. She really does have the makings of a true movie star in every sense of the word. Audiences will be transfixed for every scene and every frame with an ending no one will see coming.
Written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, The Menu is loaded with wild twists enhanced by Mylod’s playfully ominous camerawork and inventive intertitles. This film is a foodie fantasy that gradually transforms into a culinary nightmare and sinister pairings of status and guilt.