A group of rich strangers travels to a remote island for a lavishly expensive meal, unaware that the resentful head chef is plotting something sinister.
The Menu (2022)
Directed by Mark Mylod
Written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult,
John Leguizamo, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Paul Adelstein,
Aimee Carrero, Reed Birney, Judith Light, Rob Yang,
Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr
As soon as I watched the first trailer for The Menu, I knew this was going to be good. I love original ideas, and they seem few and far between in the modern age of reboots, sequels, and blockbusters. That's why I almost always go and see them in theaters just so I can do my little part in supporting them. But I digress. The Menu is a near brilliant psychological thriller and, at times, a hilarious satire on food culture. Those pretentious pricks who take photos of their meals for their Instagram, but they can't cook worth a damn. This film skewers those guys, among other groups. Ralph Fiennes commands the screen and leads a phenomenal group of character actors in one of the most unsettling films of the year.
Our heroine is Margot (Taylor-Joy), a regular person who is invited to attend a lavish dinner at Hawthorne by 2022's biggest cinematic douchebag Tyler (Hoult). Hawthorne is a restaurant located on a fully self-sufficient island from which there is no escape. It's lorded over by Chef Slowik (Fiennes), a talented chef who has grown to resent his clientele and himself. So, he plans an elaborate vengeance in the form of a seven course meal for a new group of rich pricks. And it goes crazy well, or not. I guess it depends on which way you lean. The vibe of the film is consistently uncomfortable, due mostly to secondhand embarrassment. It's intelligent filmmaking that I don't think I've seen before.
The Menu is half satire, half nightmare. It's remarkably well-acted and highly unpredictable. It's one of the smartest films of the year, and it will no doubt be buried under the box office returns of Wakanda Forever. Maybe it will find a life on a streaming service. I just really hope people get a chance to see it, because it's crazy entertaining and loaded with surprises.