Home The Menu

The Menu (15)

Cast: Hong Chau, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo
Genre: Comedy
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Release Date: 18/11/2022
Running Time: 107mins
Country: US
Year: 2022

Superstar chef Julian Slowik is a rock star of molecular gastronomy. Up to 12 patrons per sitting each pay $1,250 for an immersive, theatrical experience at his exclusive island restaurant Hawthorne, which is accessed via private ferry. Tonight's patrons include waspish food critic Lillian Bloom and her editor, and effusive foodie Tyler and his last-minute date Margot. Following an artful amuse bouche, Slowik tenderises his customers' preconceptions and the aroma of violence hangs in the air.


LondonNet Film Review

The Menu (15) Film Review from LondonNet

The lofty pretentions of modern cuisine, which might reinvent the humble chip as a triple-cooked golden baton of Maris Piper dusted with nine-times roasted Korean bamboo salt, are gleefully skewered in a treacle-black satire concocted by screenwriters Seth Reiss and Will Tracy. Morally corrupt and repugnant characters choke on just desserts, garnished with stomach-churning horror, as director Mark Mylod assembles a mouth-watering ensemble including Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult for a feast of lip-smacking cruelty. The price of entry to the banquet of barbarity is four figures per head, promoting one shocked patron to snort: “What are we eating, a Rolex?…”

No, the flavour profile of The Menu is salty and sour, served with bloodthirsty theatrical flourishes that confirm it won’t just be organic, grass-fed livestock slaughtered as the centrepiece of one meticulously tweezered course. The opening hour, before Fiennes’ epicurean ringmaster raises a silver-plated cloche and reveals the film’s twisted intentions, are the most delectable, gliding between conversations of unsuspecting diners as a regimented team of chefs makes pithy social commentary with a provocative bread plate. Reiss and Tracy’s script is deliciously acidic in ambiguous early exchanges, feeding our curiosity to the brink of gluttony. Once the filmmakers disclose the recipe of their ghoulish main course, incredulity begins to bubble over until the only ingredient left in the larder is a chunk of full-blown absurdity.

Superstar chef Julian Slowik (Fiennes) is a rock star of molecular gastronomy. Up to 12 patrons per sitting each pay $1,250 for an immersive, theatrical experience at his exclusive island restaurant Hawthorne, which is accessed via private ferry. The immaculately presented menu is savoured at a leisurely four hours and 25 minutes – overseen by clinical hostess Elsa (Hong Chau) – using fresh, seasonal fare including succulent scallops caught close to the shore and a dizzying array of reductions, foams, purees and emulsions.

Tonight’s patrons include waspish food critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), married couple Richard (Reed Birney) and Anne (Judith Light), egotistical film star Mr Diaz (John Leguizamo) and his personal assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero), a trio of unapologetically capitalist bros (Arturo Castro, Rob Yang, Mark St Cyr), and effusive foodie Tyler (Hoult) and his last-minute date Margot (Taylor-Joy). Following an artful amuse bouche, Slowik tenderises his customers’ preconceptions and the heady aroma of violence hangs in the air.

Bookmarked by prosaic descriptions of each course, The Menu leaves an appealingly bitter taste in the mouth as Mylod marinades fatally flawed characters in guilt and dishonesty. Fiennes’ cool, crisp delivery is beguiling, convincing us to swallow some of the script’s outlandish components in direct opposition to the logic of Taylor-Joy’s straight-talking interloper. Take it all with a pinch of that Korean bamboo salt.

– Kim Hu


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