THE MENU (2022)
Release Date: 11/18/22 [Cinemas]
Studio: Searchlight Pictures
"A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
With so many blockbuster franchises these days, it can be hard to find a film in a theater that’s not a huge budget action movie, with the likes of Marvel or the revival of theaters Top Gun: Maverick, or a film that’s not an artistic piece meant to draw in prestigious awards. While there’s value in both of these types of media, too few and far apart between are the days of mid-budget movies that are both original and widely accessible to a large variety of audiences. The Menu thankfully fills that void, and serves as one of the best pieces of media to hit films yet this year. Delightfully fresh, funny, and full of thrills and horror, The Menu is one of the most original films in recent memory that I’ve seen, and is guaranteed to entertain all types of audiences over the Thanksgiving holiday season.
As seen in the trailer, Margot (Anya-Taylor Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) venture to a high end restaurant, where celebrity chef Julien Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) plans to serve them an intricate course of meals, and a deadly surprise to top it all off. The script is structured as a type of thriller/horror/mystery, as many secrets are revealed about each of the other guests throughout the night. It’s exciting seeing the story unfold, and only continues to build tension and dramatic payoffs as everything unravels before your eyes. The film does a fantastic job at keeping you invested in every character's individual vices, and what the repercussions of their previous actions will be for at least the first two acts. Unfortunately, the third act disappoints a little with these payoffs, opting to go with a larger and showier option that doesn’t necessarily make sense to the world it’s created for most of the film, but still satisfies nonetheless.
While intentionally tense, the film manages to compensate and relieve the audience of some tension with countless comedic moments to follow. Besides the obviously witty characters, the film takes moments in its editing as well to add some funny bits that only elevate the movie. Often positioning itself as a cooking show, the recurring theme shows each dish in a close up, with captions that explain what it is, as well as details about the dish, much like how you would see on The Great British Baking Show, or MasterChef. It fits with the theme of the movie, and only continues to get more funny as the bit continues with each dish presented to these patrons, as they get more and more absurd as well.
Anya Taylor-Joy is an enigmatic character to capture your attention on screen, and effortlessly provides a stable rock for the audience to attach themselves to as she guides them through the movie, delivering as a girl who signed up for something way over her head, and helplessly innocent throughout the entire process. However, Hong Chau is the clear standout here. As the restaurant's ominous host, she equally balances the tense and comedic tones the film cleverly totes, and clearly embodies everything this film is going for so effortlessly in just one character.
While it may not have the best ending in my opinion, and might not land for everyone, The Menu is clearly the type of film that we need to see more of in theaters and being made. Original, clever, funny, and scary, there’s so many aspects of this film to enjoy, and nearly everyone who sees it will have a fantastic time with it as well.