There’s a lot to enjoy on ‘The Menu’


Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

‘The Menu’ movie poster

On Nov. 18, moviegoers and foodies alike were greeted in theaters with Director Mark Mylod’s The Menu. Starring the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot Mills, Ralph Fiennes as Chef Julian Slowik and more, the film serves up a gripping and intriguing thriller that subverts expectations a number of times via a clever script, inspired cinematography and riveting performances.

Taking place entirely in one night, The Menu follows Mills and her date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) as they embark on an expensive meal at Hawthorne, a high-end restaurant headed up by Slowik located on a private island. However, the night takes a turn little by little, leading to an evening Mills and the other guests can only hope to get out of alive.

Written by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss, The Menu’s script presents a wonderful assortment of distinct characters, all of which have interesting dynamics with other members of the ensemble, especially that of Mills and Slowik, who serve as foils to one another. Mills, specifically, is written to contrast the other restaurant goers and does so wonderfully, not fully grasping the upper crust nature of dining at Hawthorne like the others. 

Beyond the characters, the story wastes no time diving into the abnormal and frightening evening that the characters are experiencing. The script, additionally, follows through on its commentary of the natures of perfection and exclusivity in society, themes that are slowly developed throughout the entire film.

Visually, Peter Deming’s cinematography is unique, beautifully showcasing each meal as its being made and then displaying the final product in its own shot, which felt quite in tune with the nature of Hawthorne and the story as a whole. Additionally, with much of the story taking place in one location, Deming’s shots never feel overused or lazy, rather each feels new and visually exciting.

In terms of acting, Taylor-Joy gives one of her stronger performances, with her easily carrying herself with the confidence of her character. She also flawlessly taps into Mills’s awareness of her surroundings and her character’s refusal to worship Slowik as other characters do, which allows her to stand out from other members of the cast.

Playing Chef Slowik, Fiennes is thrilling to watch. He crafts a character that is cold, calculated and mostly detached from his sanity. His physicality is perfect, with his movements showing restraint and not over-exaggerating his character’s psychotic actions. 

Similarly detached from reality is Hong Chau’s Elsa, Slowik’s faithful second-in-command and Hawthorne’s maître d’. Chau’s portrayal is perhaps even more chilling than that of Fiennes, who shows a sliver of his humanity by the film’s end. She, however, never lets up with her character’s lack of sanity, and this, in turn, allows for her performance to be a standout and one of, if not, the most chilling portrayal of the movie.

Overall, all parts of Mylod’s film come together to serve up an exciting watch that is headed up with major star power in the form of Taylor-Joy and Fiennes, making The Menu worth a trip to the movies.