Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Mark Mylod.
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult. Hong Chau.
Thriller, US, 105 minutes, certificate 15.

Released in cinemas in the UK November 18th by Fox Searchlight.


As someone who feels out of his depth when ordering a takeaway on the phone, a film like THE MENU sets off a level of unease within myself with its ultra-expensive private island set restaurant and the exquisitely prepared dishes served up by a team of dedicated chefs, overseen by the demanding Chef Slowik. Multi-course meals consisting of multi-coloured drops of gel, aerated foam and even algae are served up to a specially invited stable of guests whose own tastes are easily outweighed by their bank balances. Out of place within this group of pretentious food critics, financial alpha-bros, a faded movie star and her own foodie boyfriend is the bemused Margot. “We are at the base of Mount Bullshit” she states as she is led to an austere dining hall where a specially tailored menu that increases in cruelty with each dish is about to be served to the unsuspecting customers.


“You’ll get less than you desire and more than you deserve,” whispers the fearsome chefs assistant Elsa to one demanding customer thus setting up the entertainingly sadistic chain of events that follows. The use of food and dining in cinema is often used as a satirical takedown of the class system, the grotesquery of LA GRANDE BOUFFE and the obese Mr Creosote from MONTY PYTHON’S MEANING OF LIFE being a couple of obvious examples and THE MENU sits nicely amongst them as a more digestible side dish if you will. Its own satirical aims take down the pretentiousness of the more theatrical dining experience and the pretentious critics who seem more delighted in expressing their own opinions for what is essentially a necessity of life. Foodies who seem more interested in visually documenting their supper for social media are also skewered mercilessly and entertainingly here.


Director Mark Mylod is a familiar name from television where he has directed that other scathing takedown of the rich and their lavish lifestyles in SUCCESSION. He is ideally suited to this much darker and broader critique nicely mixing comedy with the darker elements, maintaining the tone throughout. Anya Taylor-Joy continues her prestige genre streak here after her work on THE NORTHMAN and LAST NIGHT IN SOHO with another appealing turn but she is upstaged by Ralph Fiennes as the mysterious Chef Slowik. Fiennes uses his stern and deadpan mannerisms to great effect here, keeping his captive customers, and the audience, in the dark to whether his increasingly troubling menu is part of some misguided performance piece or something else altogether. Just as amusing is Nicholas Hoult as Margot’s boyfriend who has dragged her to this hellish night out, completely oblivious to all that is unfolding around him as he is so captivated by the food and wrapped up in his own delusions of fine dining.


The film is no doubt entertaining in its comedic stylings but it lacks bite in its darker aspects, failing to shock or shake up the viewer when it should. By the time the final course is unveiled the film lacks a real sense of bite, particularly with a conclusion that is wrapped up all too quickly with barely a shrug from those still surviving, therefore giving its audience little to care about or ponder on afterwards. Like the various dishes on display throughout there is little of real substance here but it goes down well enough.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans