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The Menu

The Menu

Painstakingly prepared. Brilliantly executed.Nov. 17, 2022United States107 Min.R
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9.5 2 votes

Synopsis

In the deliciously twisted horror-comedy The Menu, director Mark Mylod skewers the pretentiousness of haute cuisine through a sinister tale of a couple’s visit to an exclusive island restaurant. Led by Ralph Fiennes as celebrity chef Julian Slowik and Anya Taylor-Joy as a wary date, The Menu wickedly mocks foodie culture before transforming into B-movie carnage. With sharp writing and committed performances, The Menu savagely satisfies.

We open as young foodie fan Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) brings his date Margot (Taylor-Joy) to a remote island for the exclusive chance to dine at celebrated chef Julian Slowik’s new experimental restaurant. But the ornate molecular gastronomy tasting menu takes sinister turns as Julian unveils unsettling surprises between courses, sending the wealthy diners into chaos. With the chef’s meticulous vision spiraling homicidal, surviving the night becomes nearly impossible.

The script by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss takes deliciously satirical aim at the pretensions surrounding high-end dining. Snooty food critics, Instagram influencers and tycoons used to getting their way become Julian’s victims as his elaborate meal morphs into a sadistic game. Fiennes leans into genteel menace as the twisted perfectionist chef, while Taylor-Joy provides an audience surrogate horrified by the proceedings. The talented ensemble take the heightened scenario seriously, selling the darkly comic tension.

Mylod cranks up the atmosphere with Kubrickian precision, framing the stylish restaurant like a grandiose prison trapping the diners. He makes strong use of reaction shots to ratchet up discomfort as courses like cliffside limpets and throat stone massages bewilder guests. Clever reveals and twists keep the experience disorienting without losing humor. It builds slowly before fully embracing B-movie excess, all while maintaining commentary on culinary culture’s dark side.

Where The Menu shines brightest is in its satire of foodie pretension. Customers try comprehending Julian’s artistic vision through each cryptic dish like devotees worshipping a genius. But his grandiose creations mask deep insecurities, driving him to unhinged lengths for approval. Mylod effectively skewers the dogma surrounding elite dining by taking it to nightmarish extremes. Food becomes pain, art poison.

Unfortunately, The Menu loses some bite in its final act as the premise gives way to more conventional bloody mayhem. After the wickedly clever build-up, the climax feels somewhat predictable. While still executed skillfully, the conclusion plays it safe rather than pushes the envelope further. It wraps up the loose ends neatly when leaving some questions unanswered may have been bolder.

But the sharp writing and committed performances ensure The Menu is delectable enough to sate most horror comedy fans’ appetites. Mylod’s slick direction progressively ratchets up the tension between skewering fine dining fanaticism. It may not have the poisonous bite of something like The Lobster, but The Menu still serves up a uniquely tasty dish satirizing artistic obsession. This is one prestige meal worth sampling.

The Menu
The Menu
The Menu
The Menu
The Menu
Original title The Menu
IMDb Rating 7.6 14,468 votes
TMDb Rating 7.455 156 votes

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