Sunday 26 May 2024

Movie Review: The Menu (2022)

Genre: Satirical Mystery Drama  
Director: Mark Mylod  
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer  
Running Time: 107 minutes  

Synopsis: Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) travel to a small island for an invitation-only dinner at Hawthorn, the restaurant of celebrated Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). Tyler is a wannabe foodie, but Margot is less than impressed with the whole event. The other dinner guests this evening include food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer), a fading movie star (John Leguizamo), a married couple, and three obnoxious business bros. The evening of set-menu courses starts normally enough with Slowik introducing each plate, but events turn weird in a hurry.

What Works Well: This is a humorously acidic descent into an unexpected nightmare, augmented by attentive service and thoughtful wine pairings. Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy line up a range of targets including a dictionary-mining food critic, crass corporate types, a clumsy foodie with his nose pressed-up against the sophistication window, and an undeserving celebrity. Their horror chamber is a chic evening out where director Mark Mylod unleashes fury from the kitchen in the form of class warfare spiced with Agatha Christie. Ralph Fiennes is chillingly effective, Nicholas Hoult has rarely been better, and Anya Taylor-Joy is the only guest packing streetwise scrappiness.

What Does Not Work As Well: Despite the controlled duration, padding creeps in with some irrelevant interludes, including a hide-and-seek excursion. The time could have been more meaningfully invested in deeper dinner guest definitions.

Conclusion: Societal pretension, personal retribution, and a side of psychosis.

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