You know that feeling when you want something so much that you don’t exactly get what you expect? The Menu is a bit like that. Let me break it down for you into its core ingredients.
Anja Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult play characters who find themselves in a reptilian ensemble of wealth and privilege. Together with the other guests, they have been invited to a gourmet experience like no other at Hawthorne’s, a restaurant cum island retreat where chef Rafe Fiennes holds his staff to culinary perfection.
... a cinematic buffet which will sustain you until the very end.
Sporting a script with razor-sharp dialogue, the film wastes no time in dissecting the suppressed flaws of the guests. Hedge fund managers, over-inflated food critics and more, all have brought shameful amounts of personal baggage with them. However, Anja Taylor Joy is the fly in Fiennes’s perfectly prepared ointment.
So, will she ruin his evening or will she make director Mark Mylod’s black comedy a treat to savour?
Well, unsurprisingly, she excels and The Menu is a quality film with a story and script to savour. Working its way through its set courses, there are plenty of forays into black humour, body horror is promised for the final course.
Fiennes as Chef Slowik is a darker more sadistic take on his ebullient yet deceitful hotel manager from Grand Budapest Hotel. The repression is there again but this time the joy de vivre has been replaced by a mannered sense of hurt which his character serves with a course of fiendish dishes. Nicholas Hault is also on form as a self-obsessed foodie Tyler, who blindly sees nuance and shade to every burnt fig leaf that is brought to his table. However, it’s interloper, Anja Taylor Joy steals the show. Holding her own in a cast that could easily be described as intimidating, she again proves herself to be the emerging star.
In the end, the film owes a clear debt to Hannibal, the peerless TV show where Mads Mikkelsen took cooking to a place of opulent discomfort. However, it is Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, Thief, Wife and Her Lover to which The Menuowes the most. Assembling a diner des çons, each who will have their secrets undone in an opulent banquet, Greenaway’s 1980s tableau still tables the most praise from me.
Taking nothing away, The Menu is still a great watch and well worth watching alongside Greenaway’s more sadistic smorgasbord. Inventively departing into the territory of trying to satisfy an ensemble who can’t (and refuse) to be satisfied, it’s a cinematic buffet which will sustain you until the very end.
So get ready to tuck in as Rafe Fiennes and Mark Mylod have made a righteous meal which is ripe and ready for your pleasure.