When Mark Mylod directed ‘The Menu’, he knew foodies everywhere were going to be in for a surprise.
Throw out any thoughts of a feel-good film that focuses on good food—‘The Menu’ does not tell this kind of story, as the audience learns very quickly.
Whisked away with protagonist ‘Margot’ (Anya Taylor-Joy) the last-minute date of Nicholas Hoult’s foodie epitomized Tyler, we travel to a private island where the rich and famous once felt safe.
Hawthorne island is as pretentious as you’d expect —run with cult-like efficiency. The guests who all booked long in advance just to be in time for dinner, generally seem unsurprised, par Margot. From the offset, we all enter the ultra-exclusive, ultra-over-the-top, and obviously satirical world that the wealthy characters live in. It’s one where anything can be sold for thousands of dollars so long as it’s branded as rare, and one where the menu’s real kicker is just how many spoonfuls of elitism have been stirred into the mix.
‘Chef’ Slowik played by Ralph Fiennes has long been anticipating this particular night’s guests. A cutthroat food critic and her editor, a tired actor, a trio of dirty techs’ wealthy, his regulars (a rich couple with secrets), and of course, Tyler and Margot, who were supposed to be Tyler and his ex-girlfriend when Chef’s planning began.
His staff are more like military workers than cooks, summonsed and commanded by strict claps.
Each course (there are several) intensifies as the night goes on, ranging from extremely satirical (one of the courses is literally foraged from the island and couldn’t look less appealing) to personal attacks (like the bread dish with no bread because that’s the common man’s food) and progressively darker.
One dish serves up the guests’ secrets, printed on tortillas.
The film knows its satire and capitalises on the audience’s curiosity with a world that largely isn’t their own. However, soon we clock on that this isn’t just a theatric play. It’s Chef’s final menu, and the night will be unforgettable.
‘The Menu’ is a direct play on someone who made their career by breaking their back for the super-wealthy, became their dancing monkey with a spatula, then became a monster, and then decided to seek revenge served hot.
However, Margot, who was never supposed to be there in the first place, must find a way to escape Chef’s menu before she goes down with a ship that was never hers to begin with.
Can she do it? I’ll leave you to find out.
Feature Image: Searchlight Pictures