The Menu Movie Review

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Brutal satire and thrilling genre thriller converge in The Menu. The tense, one-set drama by director Mark Mylod and screenwriters Will Tracy and Seth Reiss skewers the world of elitist luxury dining experiences. New sweethearts Margot and Tyler are among a privileged group of diners served by the pretentious Slowik. His multi-course culinary mania reveals hidden layers of sinister intent.

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy

The Menu is another entry in the horror-comedy subgenre that, like Get Out skewered white guilt and Ready or Not poked holes in inherited wealth, has been gaining popularity in recent years. The film’s social satire isn’t as deep as those films, but it’s still effective. Mylod’s script deftly filets every target it aims at, from culinary snobbery to performance art.

The movie is set almost entirely within the sleek modernist walls of Hawthorne, a ultra-exclusive restaurant that’s perched on a small island and accessible only by boat. The wealthy elites who dine there drop $1,250 a head to consume the culinary works of art created by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).

Taylor-Joy plays Margot, the drooling plus-one brought along by foodie fanboy Tyler (Nicholas Hoult). She’s more interested in sneaking a cigarette than fawning over the latest sous vide technique.

As the evening progresses, the torture Slowik delivers becomes more and more grotesque, and each course reveals itself to be an intentionally staged performance. The satire is largely successful, and the performances by Fiennes, Hoult, and Hong Chau are all top-notch.

Director: Mark Mylod

Director Mark Mylod and screenwriters Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have adapted the world of high-end restaurants into a darkly humorous, stringent thriller. Despite its pristine presentation, The Menu is violent in all the right ways, with the kind of sudden acceleration that’s both thrilling and amusing.

Chef Slowik is a character worthy of being satirized in the same vein as the capitalist scum he skewers. He’s a man who has sold his soul for success, beholden to investors, celebrity chefs, the media, mindless fanboys, and — worst of all — the obnoxious diners.

It’s a bit more ruthless than some of its glitzier brethren, but it has a sardonic edge that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, even as they watch Slowik’s indifference to his own demise. This is a movie that will leave you hungry for more. And luckily, you won’t have to wait long for the sequel. Nathan Rubin is a Junior from the Carolinas double majoring in space mov Film & Media Studies and English. Outside of directing, Nathan hosts a radio show and writes about films for Alloy Literary Magazine.

Screenplay: Will Tracy & Seth Reiss

The twisted culinary satire The Menu, from director Mark Mylod and screenwriters Will Tracy and Seth Reiss, walks a tightrope between roasting the restaurant industry and respecting its craft. Mylod’s staging is sharp and elegant, icy-cold in the best way, and his cast—particularly Anya Taylor-Joy as an obnoxious new-age foodie and Nicholas Hoult as her priggish stepford boyfriend—is superb.

But as the film progresses, it descends into a trashy genre thriller, and its blood-soaked violence is not for everyone’s palate. It’s not the first movie this year to explore the dichotomy between the takers and the givers, but it takes the idea to such extreme, skin-of-your-teeth territory that it eventually overpowers the movie’s intentions.

Reiss and Tracy borrow from the increasingly preposterous world of high-end dining to make a darkly hilarious skewering of the rich and their professed philanthropy. But they also hit broad targets like the impossible melding of art and commerce, and a sense that all artists are beholden to their critics, investors, and fans. This makes The Menu feel less a scalpel-sharp satire than a cathartic primal scream about the art world.

Starring: Ralph Fiennes

After Get Out skewered white guilt, Ready or Not poked holes in inherited wealth, and The Hunt tracked liberal hypocrisy, it’s no wonder that the next step for this new genre of class-conscious horror-comedies is to satirize the fetishization of food. In The Menu, director Mark Mylod delivers a sophisticated, uniquely modern film that takes aim at high-end restaurant culture with a twisted sense of humor.

The movie revolves around a wealthy couple (Margot and Tyler played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult, who gives off serious Peter Lorre vibes here) that travel to an isolated island for a special dinner with legendary chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes, with a barely there sneer). Slowik is half cult leader, half Michelin-starred maestro, and all Heston Blumenthal stirring cyanide into Kool-Aid. He’s terrifying, and Fiennes is simply excellent in the role.

There are moments where you almost feel sorry for Slowik, as he’s tormented by his own ego and by the mindless money of his patrons. But as soon as he begins torturing his customers in increasingly despicable ways, any sympathy dissipates.

Music: Colin Stetson

Whether it’s a satirical slap in the face of foodies or just a bloody good horror-thriller, The Menu delivers. The acting is flawless, the cinematography by Peter Deming is crisp, and Colin Stetson’s jaggedy score is appropriately unsettling.

Known as a collaborator of the indie rock acts Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Bell Orchestre, and Ex Eye, Colin Stetson’s use of circular breathing and multiphonics accentuate the acoustic characteristics of the instrument, giving it shape, detail, and polyphony. He also employs a rigorous technique of extensive miking, ensuring that the music is more than just drones and percussive key claps.

Writers Will Tracy and Seth Reiss aren’t afraid to let Chef Slowik go down with the smug, surface-obsessed diners that he treats so cruelly, and they add enough layers to the movie to make it more than just another rich-asshole skewering tale. And while the movie is billed as a thriller, you won’t find many of the usual gimmicks that typify this genre. The Menu is a cathartic dark fantasy for anyone who has ever worked in the service industry and wanted revenge on their most obnoxious customers.

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