The Reel Review

B

Twelve people gathering on a remote island for a unique, haute cuisine dining experience at an exclusive restaurant suddenly find themselves on a menu of sorts, when the famed chef and his meticulous staff turns on them, in this satirical horror/thriller starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult in The Menu

Under the direction of Mark Mylod (Succession), The Menu is a wickedly delicious send-up of the pretentious foodie set – both its creators AND its consumers. Fiennes is totally in his element as the vengeful, put-upon chef who has had it with concocting ridiculous meals for his unappreciative, reprehensible guests, with a perfect Taylor-Joy as our skeptical hero – a last-minute addition to the guest list who doesn’t understand the obsession with all this ridiculousness and whose presence threatens to disrupt the chef’s sinister plans.

Ralph Fiennes addressing the dinner guests in The Menu.

Rounding out the cast – Nicholas Hoult (The Great) as her annoying chef groupie/date, Reed Birney and a woefully underutilized Judith Light (Who’s The Boss?) as the millionaire and his dutiful wife, Janet McTeer (Ozark) as a preening food critic and John Leguizamo as a has-been movie star. A trio of obnoxious tech bros give Hong Chau (Downsizing, Homecoming) some wonderful scene-chewing moments as the chef’s right-hand woman, efficiently pampering them while viciously judging them.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes in The Menu.

While the totally bonkers plot really doesn’t tell us anything new, for all its silliness, The Menu is still pretty entertaining, with clever camerawork showcasing plenty of unexpected twists and turns – and tension – in a sleek, chic setting. From the amusing on-screen descriptions of the various meal courses, the breadless bread plate, and its hysterically macabre treatment of s’mores, almost no one escapes the film’s scathing satirical criticism. I’ll have mine well done, thanks.

REEL FACTS

• Originally Emma Stone was cast to play the lead in The Menu.

• Screenwriter Will Tracy says he came up with the idea for The Menu after a visit to a fancy restaurant on a private island near Bergen, Norway.

Chef Dominique Crenn

• Filmed in Savannah and nearby Jekyll Island, Georgia, the lavish food layouts were prepared by renowned French chef Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in the U.S. to attain three Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.

 

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