THE MENU stars Ralph Fiennes as Chef Julian Slowik, who has an exclusive restaurant named Hawthorne on an island off an unnamed coast.
We meet a young couple played by Nicholas Hoult and Anya Taylor-Joy, who are among 12 guests who’ve come to Hawthorne for what proves to be an unforgettable meal by chef Slowik and his crew.
Suppose you want to know absolutely nothing about this film going in. In that case, I’ll tell you that I recommend this film for the delightful performances of Fiennes as the celebrity chef who runs a tight ship. Also, Elsa, his majordomo and maitre’d, played with military precision by Hong Chau, a Vietnamese American actress you may have seen in Treme, Downsizing, HBO’s Watchmen, American Woman, and an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance in Driveways. Finally, Taylor-Joy is Margo, a young woman who may not be who she is supposed to be.
For the rest of you, I won’t reveal too much more; however, several details have been shown in the trailer, which is one reason I’m calling out the marketing of the film.
Nicholas Hoult is a hoot as Tyler, who has invited Margo along for this culinary carnival.
Chef Slowik introduces each course with a story that amplifies the course his guests and we, as the audience, are about to consume. However, as the meal progresses, it gets stranger and continues until it becomes deadly.
Mark Mylod has fun directing this macabre tale. It turns out to be a game of cat and mouse between Chef Slowik and Margo while keeping the rest of the guests off-balance except for Tyler, who seems to be taking all of the evening’s events in stride, no matter how disquieting they may be.
Mylod has solid bona fides as a director, having directed three other films, six episodes of Game of Thrones, 12 episodes of Shameless, and 13 episodes of Succession. The script by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy is delightful and funny despite the horrid goings-on, and Adam McKay and Will Ferrill are attached as producers along with Betsy Koch and others.
Just talking about the movie has caused me to upgrade my rating, and I absolutely recommend the film. Rated R for strong/disturbing violent content, language throughout, and some sexual references, The Menu is a horror-comedy thriller for adults, and I’m rating it four stars, 8/10.