REVIEW: “The Menu” serves a delicious black comedy satire thriller


Wikipedia; Searchlight Pictures

“The Menu” offers a delightful dish with the acting of Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes.

Kushi Maridu, Co-editor-in-chief

Addressing over-analytical foodies, over-analyzing critics and the filthy rich, “The Menu” pulls off a delightful dish with bold flavors of suspense and black comedy.

The movie follows celebrity chef Slowik, who runs the exclusive restaurant Hawthorne on his private island that can only be accessed by ferry. A group of rich customers arrive at the $1,250-per-person experience, where the staff behave strangely, treating the guests strictly and acting secretive. These customers come in pairs that include a renowned food critic and her editor; a once-famous film star and a lover who plans on leaving him; Tyler, who is an obsessed foodie and a diehard fan of Slowik, and his date, Margot and a rich couple. 

The experience starts with food that parodies the food of other celebrity chefs. These dishes include the Breadless Bread Platter, since bread is supposedly for the “poor” and not suitable for the rich, and tacos that contain secret wrongdoings about the guests. 

Margot is the only one that realizes that this menu is a trap and tries to find an escape. Soon, the rest of the guests find out they are trapped on this island and won’t survive what Slowik cooks up for them. As the movie progresses, all the characters, including Chef Slowik, slowly descend to insanity as they come to terms with their past mistakes and their certain future.

Chef Slowik is flawlessly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes had mastered the role of playing villains, previously playing Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series and Amon Göth in “Schindler’s List,” and he brings the same intensity to the role of Slowik. Although Slowik is not a villain in “The Menu,” he certainly is a flawed antagonist with deep regrets. Fiennes plays the role with a calm fervor, letting the audience know that he’s in control.

Margot is skillfully played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Taylor-Joy previously played Beth Harmon in “Queen’s Gambit” and Casey Cooke in “Split” and “Glass.” With plenty of experience playing  “the girl against the odds,” Taylor-Joy does the same with Margot. 

All the other actors play their roles convincingly, supporting the eerie and humorous tone of the film. Complementing the acting, the humor lightened the atmosphere of existential terror and despair which built up as the implications of what was occurring became clearer. All the humorous situations landed and made the audience laugh, even when the cause of the laughter was dark. 

PV alum Soumit Varre enjoyed the humor in the film. “The humor was just perfect and it mixed along well with the suspense the movie provides. It’s very hard to find a film that balances both equally and comes out as a good product,” Varre shared.

The horror of mutilation, suicides and stabbings made the movie a dark comedy but the harsh act of having a foodie cook under the pressure of a celebrity chef and his army of chefs sends shivers down spines.

Although the movie keeps the audience engaged with the unique story and humor, the screentime is too short to connect with many of the characters in the movie. The 94-minute runtime is enough to explore some, not all, of the characters in depth, leaving the audiences wanting to learn more about the others.

Other than that, Director Mark Mylod ensured the technical aspects of “The Menu” were outstanding. The sound stood out the most in the movie, as it should in any suspenseful film. The immense quietness is often broken by Slowik’s clap, jolting the audience to remain attentive throughout. The visuals also add to the suspense as they conceal little hints, showing that something is off from the beginning. 

Varre found the sound to be engaging. “‘The Menu’ was an overall solid experience. I was engaged the whole time with its astounding sound work and visuals. It had excellent commentary on modern day issues,” Varre continued.

“The Menu” is a suspenseful and humorous film that features strong performances from Fiennes and Taylor-Joy. The technical aspects of the film, including the sound and visuals, are impressive, and the movie offers a thought-provoking commentary on modern day issues. Although the runtime may not allow for a deep exploration of all the characters, “The Menu” is a well-crafted film that is sure to keep audiences engaged.