Anyone who got a table in Julian Slowik’s ( Ralph Fiennes ) restaurant has made it in life. After all, this is a very exclusive posh restaurant, which is located on a remote island and is very selective with the guests. Tyler ( Nicholas Hoult ) is all the happier that he is one of the lucky ones. Because he’s a big fan of the eccentric chef, has seen all of his – unlike his girlfriend Margot ( Anya Taylor-Joy) who can’t do anything with all this. The fact that she is not actually on the guest list for the exclusive event causes irritation at the beginning. After all, everything is prepared down to the last detail that evening. At the end of the day, she is allowed to take a seat. However, her happiness has no limits. It’s not just that the strictly conceptualized haute cuisine isn’t to her liking at all. Also, something doesn’t seem right at this event…
When food is the subject of a film, it’s often about the joy of it. It’s about people who want to fulfill a dream and share it with others. Of course, one or two obstacles have to be cleared on the way to happiness. But it tastes even better later. The Menu is also about self-realization and dreams, about sharing and the search for happiness. While many other films from this area are purely out for feel-good belly brushing, you notice quite early on that the direction is different. The first pictures are idyllic, with lots of sun, and the sea. The island is a green paradise. But at the same time, there is something threatening about all of this.
What this threat ultimately is, will only be revealed relatively late. Director Mark Mylod ( Ali G in da House ) takes it easy and slowly increases the intensity. There is certainly tension in The Menu, both among the guests and in the relationship between them and the chef and his host of servants. There is no sign of joy there. So enters head waitress Elsa ( Hong Chau) is friendly, but hardly hides the hardness behind it. The rest of the kitchen team gives the impression that they are more like the military, led by a chef who you can’t tell if he loves his job or hates it. Where it’s not clear whether he wants to do something good for his guests or show them off with his quirky creations that are more concept than food.
“The Menu” is a fun mix of comedy and thriller about an exclusive posh restaurant where a slightly different menu is planned. There is much food for thought here, both in terms of the relationship between people and art and class differences. But you can also just sit back and enjoy the slowly rising escalation, as long as you don’t mind the rather leisurely pace.