“The Menu” Rating: 4/5
With the amount of content I explore, I really appreciate when a story can be original and clever. “The Menu” is just that — it manages to combine elements of a thriller with some sharp black comedy.
The story begins when a couple travels to a remote island for a special dining event that’s hosted by a mysterious, accomplished chef. While dining at this exclusive restaurant, the attendees are featured to some shocking surprises, finding that the night may not go as planned.
The greatest compliment I can give to a film like this is the ability to subvert expectations. “The Menu” consistently combines clever, witty dialogue while displaying a sense of tongue-in-cheek humor. Very rarely do I enjoy the thriller/comedy genre blending, but this is as good as it gets.
The story slowly builds the tension as the plot moves forward, creating a sense of unease that never lets up. Anya Taylor-Joy gives a great performance as Margot, who clearly doesn’t share the same enthusiasm in the hoity toity food that her date does. Nicholas Hoult also delivers as the snobby boyfriend. Several of his lines cracked me up and rounded out the satire nicely.The standout was Ralph Fiennes, who was terrific. Whether it was the intense claps to garner attention of the guests or staring into the eyes of his critics, he shines in every scene.
The film also has some nice cinematography. It captures the sharp colors and detail of the food that is prepared within this elegant setting. This helps because each course that is served gets more and more intense, so the absurd nature of the meals with the elegant preparation perfectly captures the essence that was intended.
While I found “The Menu” to be an absolute delight, I can see a few circumstances that would make it better. The introduction felt a bit rushed as we were given little backstory on the guests or the mysterious chef. Even a bit more exposition might have been helpful.
I also had a similar issue with the conclusion. It was the weakest segment of the film. Perhaps the filmmakers were a bit burnt out by the end? Maybe s’more resolution would have been helpful? Ha!
The film also takes place in one room for most of the story. This wasn’t an issue for me, as it added to the claustrophobic atmosphere, but I could see certain audience members feeling the runtime due to the contained setting.
Overall, “The Menu” is a razor-sharp film that is one of the bigger surprises of 2022. It has great performances, a unique story, and many memorable sequences. Definitely check it out, as it is one of my favorite films of the year. You won’t have a tastier experience than this!