What would it cost to have the world’s best dinner? The Menu is a new British film directed by Mark Mylod (The Big White). It asks this question. For a few thousand dollars, would you travel to a small island with a dozen lucky diners and make a pilgrimage? Do you think you can bear the coldness of the chef’s description of how you will consume entire ecosystems over the course of this coveted meal?
The Menu is a sharp, incisive critique of the restaurant industry disguised as a slow-burn horror movie. The question becomes more sinister when it becomes clear that The Menu is a serious and frank criticism of the industry.
Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult star in the film. Ralph Fiennes plays Julian Slowik, the passionate and bubbly chef. The scenes of transition are clearly a reference to Chef’s Table, which is a docu-series made up of pages that present each course. He’s also an ideal companion to Ruben Ostlund’s Triangle of Sadness. They have similar goals and use twisted, Monty Python-inspired comedy as a way to get their message across.
The 2022 menu film Photo
The first course, a mixture of seaweed, rocks, and “freshly frozen filter seawater,” is so moving that Tyler (Hoult), an over-enthusiastic gourmet, begins to weep at its beauty, while Margot ( Taylor Joy) looks on in dismay.
The Menu is a dark comedy at its core that examines social class in the dining area, both for those serving and for those who are being served. Slowik selected the restaurant’s most privileged patrons because of their proximity to wealth and power.
They all reveal dark secrets and indiscretions, of which Slowik is aware. He chillingly laser-engraved the tortillas with his secret information. The patrons and observers realize that there is something sinister at the table.
The Menu examines how the hospitality industry caters for the wealthy and what ‘rights” have emerged among diners. Slowik is a tyrant who is well-known in the kitchen. He extends his control to the dining room and drives his guests to greater discomfort. He refuses them food. He makes fun of their wealth. He watches his VIP guests, who have never been subject to any abuse, let alone this level of extreme, performative’ cruelty, as they try to understand what is happening.
The horrors of Slowik’s plan become clear and the guests focus on how they can survive the night. We watch from our seats and we alternate between rooting for Slowik to put a bunch of bratty VIPs in their place and feeling a creepy sense that he has gone too far. Ralph Fiennes plays Slowik with coolness but with terrifying atavistic rage.
A course called “The mess” explores the mental and physical toll of daily work under the direction of Slowik. The Menu also addresses the issue of sexual harassment within the sector and how to manage it according the law of retaliation.
This is the sort of scenario workers who were abused by their bosses or colleagues may fantasize about. It is a confusing and stressful moment that raises questions about the possibility of meaningful redress.