THE MENU won't be to everyone's taste but I loved every delicious bite of this twisted, unpredictable horror/dark comedy thriller.
As someone that loves an occasional meal at a two-Michelin star restaurant, and the anticipation of grabbing that impossible reservation at the latest elite hot spot, I found myself laughing a lot at the pretentious nature of it all.
I have immediate respect for Director Mark Mylod (Succession, Game of Thrones) and screenwriters Seth Rice and Will Tracy. Together, they elevate what could have been a routine mystery into a hilarious, violent social commentary.
NO SPOILERS as that would ruin the delicious meal ahead of you when you arrive at Hawthorne, an island restaurant that looks modern but has some absolutely primal delights within its walls.
The diners tonight are an interesting lot. A trio of party boys from the accounting team of the restaurant's angel investor. An older couple that's enjoying their 11th meal at Hawthorne. Pompous young Tyler (Nicholas Hoult delivering every bit of admiration for the food like its a religious experience) his disinterested date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy from "The Northman") and a fading movie star played by John Leguizamo, who has said he based the character on his very nasty experience making "Executive Decision" with Steven Seagal.
Also in attendance for this evening's sitting is famed food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer) and her ass-kissing assistant.
The restaurant is run with an iron fist by the famed gourmet chef Julian Slowik, played for terror and subversive laughs by Ralph Fiennes. The Chef claps loudly at the beginning of each course, scaring the hell out of everyone. By the end of the meal, they'll discover a lot worse things up Chef's sleeve than the startling claps at Hawthorne.
Hong Chau (The Whale) is terrifying as the most loyal head of staff I've ever seen.
Each course is introduced or summarized with a picture of the course and an on screen description of the ingredients in elegant script. These chapter summaries were some of the highlights of the very witty script for me. I was laughing out loud at them while admiring just how damn clever they and this film are.
I could listen over & over to Fiennes deliver Chef Slowik's appraisal of one the movie star's failed films that Chef watched on his only day off. Fiennes facial expressions as he delivers his opinion are flawless. His "Taco Tuesday" rant is genius (and improvised by Fiennes) and his opinion of Smores is noted.
Any regular readers of my reviews know that I love a film that takes me in unexpected directions. I had NO idea where this one was headed for every bit of its suspenseful and intriguing 107 minutes.
Visually arresting and flavored with a haunting music score by Colin Stetson (Hereditary), THE MENU is an adult, gory and surprisingly delicious movie that gets an A.
"It wasn't cod you donkey. It was halibut."
"We have reached the base camp of Mount Bullshit. This is insane."
Indeed it is, in all the right ways.