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January 22, 2023

Dark, wry, scathing, and utterly riveting, The Menu serves a deliciously twisted treat.

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The Menu ☆☆☆☆

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Paul Adelstein, Reed Birney, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo

Directed by: Mark Mylod

Tagline: Painstakingly prepared. Brilliantly executed.


A fine-dining experience goes awfully, deviously awry in The Menu, an exquisite blend of black comedy and horror that offers a generous helping of scathing satire, acerbic wit, and riveting suspense.

Helmed with sleek, sardonic style by Succession‘s Mark Mylod, the movie takes us to a ridiculously exclusive restaurant where the chef is planning to serve more than just a pretentious, multi-course meal to his diners.

A group of guests – including a food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein); a wealthy couple (Reed Birney and Judith Light); a washed-up film star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero); and three business associates (Rob Yang, Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr) – converge at a private island for a ludicrously expensive dinner that is being prepared by renowned Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team of devoted workers. Little do they know that their evening isn’t going to go quite the way they would have imagined.

Slowik has precise, elaborate intentions for these wealthy clients that go beyond serving a theatrically prepared and presented meal. But his plans are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), who shows up as the date of foodie Tyler (Nicholas Hault), replacing his now-ex-girlfriend who was originally meant to be his plus one. Though he may be irked and a tad flustered by her presence, Slowik isn’t, however, about to let Margot stop him from dishing exactly what he thinks his guests deserve.

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Its setup – a group of people brought together in a remote location (a la Glass Onion) – may feel a little familiar at this point, especially in the post-Covid era of filmmaking, but the setting is still fresh and compelling enough to keep the concept interesting. Seth Reiss and Will Tracy’s script skewers high-end cuisine and food industry culture while inspiring a broader conversation about art and critics, taking several swings at the wealthy, and exploring classism.

The proceedings lose some momentum after the endgame is revealed and there are a couple of moments here and there that are less than convincing, but overall the movie remains brilliantly sharp and well-crafted, populated with a fine cast that consistently delivers excellent performances.

Prepared with the finest of cinematic ingredients – terrific script, wonderful cast, skilful direction – The Menu ultimately offers food for thought topped with a sprinkling of wit and suspense, and is likely to leave you wishing more films could be this smart and enjoyable.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

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