THE MENU: Laughter, Hunger and Glitter [REVIEW]

The Menu is not a combination of Lobster and Delicatessen, as you might expect from the trailer.

Natalia Hluzow

6 January 2023

menu review The Menu

The Menu is the latest film by Mark Mylod, the director of numerous episodes of Entourage, Shameless and Succession, which is considered a masterpiece of contemporary television. The plot of the film focuses on an exclusive dinner in a restaurant so luxurious that getting a table in this establishment located on a separate island is a thing only for the richest and most influential elite. An outstanding food critic with her publisher, a faded movie star with his assistant, a millionaire with his wife, three careerists from the corporation belonging to the owner of the restaurant and a wealthy cooking enthusiast with his mysterious partner meet there. None of them can count on the special favors of despotic chef Julian Slowik and his disciplined staff. To taste the culinary genius of the artist, everyone will have to submit to his vision of the evening. In some way, however, they will be able to feel the chosen ones. The master has prepared a unique spectacle for them in his career…

menu review

Simpler does not mean worse

The Menu is not a combination of Lobster and Delicatessen, as you might expect from the trailer. This is a film that is simpler in its structure and quite obvious in its message than the aforementioned titles. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. On the contrary. Mylod’s film is a skillfully written and directed, and above all, genuinely funny satire, using pitch-black humor. Visually, it is a picture pampered and refined like dishes prepared by a chef and his team – both at the level of scenography, costumes and cinematography. From the first seconds, we can also enjoy the excellent acting. The cast excels in the roles of pretentious snobs.

It’s hard to say who is best at parodying high society, but I’d go for Nicholas Hoult, who excels as self-centered assholes like no other. Next to him, Anya Taylor-Joy shines on the screen as always, and Hong Chau is also great as the terribly composed restaurant manager. The stage, however, belongs primarily to Ralph Fiennes as the master of ceremonies, whose unique talent for causing anxiety in the viewer works perfectly here.

menu review

A real taste of art

The plot solutions could be more interesting, the plot twists more surprising, and the bottom line more difficult to discover. There is also a bit too little of of authentic horror in this macabre. The situation presented on the screen is reduced to such absurdity that we stop caring about the fact that human lives are at stake in this sophisticated spectacle. The Menu thus becomes more of a bloody comedy than a dark thriller embellished with comedy. It’s a pity, but – as I mentioned earlier – the social commentary here is so funny and accurate that you can forgive the creators for shortcomings on other levels.

Seemingly nothing revealing, just another satire on high society, given in a way that brings to mind Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up (who acted as producer here). This time, the sharp edge of criticism is aimed directly at food critics, food porn lovers and supporters of Modest Amaro’s “moments” cooking. But culinary art is just one of the arts reduced to absurdity by recipients in love with their own elitism. Theses put forward by Mylod can easily be related to fine arts, theater or cinema itself.

menu review

How many film critics are in love with themselves, how many pseudo-experts of cinema repeat clichés and praise or blame works only because it is appropriate to praise or blame them; how many filmmakers who are obsessed with their own genius… How many people, wanting to be considered artists or connoisseurs, forget that meals are prepared to feed their bellies, and films – to feed hearts and souls. The Menu reminds us of these simple truths, perhaps not in a perfect way, but in an attractive and exciting way to satisfy our original hunger for sensations.

Natalia Hluzow

Natalia Hluzow

A lover of the works of Tarantino, Nolan, Waititi, superhero cinema and the TV series "The Office" (US!) Raised on "The Lord of the Rings" and "Lethal Weapon". She considers "Fight Club", "Inglourious Basterds" and "Inception" to be synonyms of a film masterpiece. Her newest love is Matt Reeves' "The Batman". Contrary to the stereotypes about film school graduates, she loves mainstream cinema and all the intertextual games that take place within it. She hates contrived dialogues, paper characters and when the creators doubt the viewer's intelligence.

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