The Menu, released in November of 2022, sees a young couple travel to a remote island to dine at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has promised that they’ll bear witness to the greatest menu ever conceived. On the surface, the premise seems rather unassuming however this works perfectly in the movies favor as it proceeds to invoke a real mixed bag of emotions throughout its 106 minute run time, fluidly blending satire and witty social commentary into a tense and engaging thriller-like atmosphere all whilst maintaining a consistent pace.
The director Mark Mylod, most notably known for his work on both the critically acclaimed Game Of Thrones and Succession does an excellent job at illustrating many recurring motifs and effortlessly jumping back and forth in order to touch on a multitude of themes. It’s not just his direction that makes this movie a must watch, with the main cast being stacked with famous faces most notably Ralph Fiennes playing the domineering role of Chef Slowik and Anya Taylor-Joy taking the role of our down to earth protagonist Margot.
These factors are what initially lead me to watch the film and I must say, I’m so very glad I did. It really is a must watch that I find to be very accommodating for a variety of viewers from those who enjoy an intellectual viewing that is jam packed with subtext and symbolism to those who purely enjoy the excitement and tense world building of a thriller-like movie. You’ll notice I say thriller-like in absence of a more apt description of genre, as even now I still struggle to label this film as it just delves into too many realms of cinema to catagorise into just one effective genre.
I not only highly recommend this film to those who have yet to see it, but I must implore that you go into it as blind as you possibly can. Whilst it’s great viewing regardless, I found that going in with no preconceptions or ideas regarding the narrative really made the viewing experience more impactful and allowed for more freedom when unpicking the many ideas and symbols expressed throughout.
So with that in mind I’ll proceed with a review unpicking more of the story at hand, so consider yourself warned as there are spoilers ahead…
Julian Slowik is expertly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes as an artist fueled once by a passion for his craft, and driven only now by obsession and a desire to satisfy those who cannot be satisfied. Slowik is an expertly written character whom I find to be comparable to Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of The Lambs. Whilst there is no doubt the man is disturbed, his actions in the film supporting that view, we come to understand more about his life from his childhood to his life in the service industry in order to understand the motives behind his actions almost humanising the beacon of hatred and malice presented to us.
The duality of Slowik and Margot’s relationship is what makes this film so intriguing, with each respective character portraying a different mindset to the life of the service industry worker creating a strong message.
Saying anymore than this would do a disservice to the film as it does a far greater job than I at portraying the themes at hand, so do yourself a favour and watch it as soon as possible.