The Menu – A 2023 Dark Comedy Movie Fave

I was not about to watch The Menu originally but I have always been a big fan of Ralph Fiennes since The English Patient day and has watched nearly everything including Harry Potter and even In Bruges. 

I have to say (with a lot of bias of course being a big fan), Ralph Fiennes still played at his best to begin with, and to me only him playing his best is enough. However, it is splendid that Anna Taylor Joy is also playing very strongly for her role (although it is not easy to up her Queen’s Gambit role obviously) as well Nicholas Hoult also giving of his better performance, giving suitably nauseating suck up performance as required by his character’s role. Supporting actors played well also, we have some very strong character players such as John Leguizamo,Janet McTeer, Judith Light and many more, but unfortunately they are not given time enough to develop a little bit more their interesting respective characters. It’s one of the movie that should probably given 30 minutes more. All in all the casts are playing well together to give us entertaining and delicate movie to enjoy.

I rarely review the story of the movie at length but this one deserve longer and more paragraphs. It is a cross over between dark comedy and suspense genre (some possibly calling it even horror given some of its more macabre scenes but to me it is not a horror genre). It is written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, directed by Mark Mylod (who directed Game of Throne in the past). The story is set in very elegant Swedish architect diners on a small island called Hawthorn, owned and operated by celebrity chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) where a set of 1% elite guests congregated to enjoy privately cook dinners, except Tyler (food enthusiast played by Nicolas Hoult)  and his makeshift date called Margot (Anna Taylor Joy). Guests including a couple of wealthy baron regular with his wife, food critic and his editor, washed up movie star and his PA, brothers of tech / VC and Chef’s mother. The story evolves around the menu with its narrative that gets more unsettling as it progresses through the evening, in which back story of the guests becomes part of the menu context in an eerie way. 

To me, it truly is an original quirky and compelling story that makes you question right and wrong as well morality. The menu is an interesting movie where your definition of antagonistic roles are questioned and unconventional in which there are more than one major antagonistic roles depending on your definition.It also is parody of food snobs that truly got people to think where is the boundary of culinary arts and good old fashion food enjoyment, at the end there is a scene on cheeseburger that is truly symbolic and smart that highlight paradox between food for visual fiesta and pure eating enjoyment (I crave for burger right after, the scene is that compelling). The Menu functions as social critics talks breeezely about variety of hypocrisy, adultery, embezzlement and fraud among others typically committed by the entitled few such as tech / VC brothers, conglomerates older wealthy man (and his snobbish wife), dodgy entertainer (played well by John Leguizamo in nearly cameo-like approach) and media so-called elites. The ending is a bit out there but I am hesitating to label it happy or sad ending. 

Awesome cinematography big and small, visually and auditory-wise, supplemented by equally awesome setting and props. 

While this movie is truly carried by Ralph because of the story giving a lot of space to the character but also because Ralph fine acting, the story and setting played a large part to contribute to the enjoyment of the movie. It is just one of those haunting movie in a closed space, which I think very challenging shoots for the cinematographers and the director. 

Simply put, to me it is a great watch, a movie that you can use for elegant ice breaking especially if you can mix with your knowledge on culinary or philosophy or business stories (aka if you also want to play up being your snobbish self), but really it is a great date movie or dinner-with-friends movie. 

Verdict : Must Watch !

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