The Menu – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Menu – A Tasty Dark Dessert: Welcome to Hawthorne

What is your flavor of choice?  Is it the sensation of adventure or the endearment of love?  No matter the flavor, we all have a specific taste.  I enjoy most films, but one genre that really grabs me are dark comedies.  A genre that is ironic, these stories weave stark commentary within the smartness of writing.  These are niche films, but when one strike the right chord, dark hilarity will ensue.  In this review, I look at a dark comedy with a foodie twist.  With a strong ensemble cast, this is riveting commentary on food culture and obsession.  Even with heavy foreshadowing elements, The Menu is a twisting tale that will have you savoring … life’s last course.     

A group of selected individuals head to a seclude island to eat at one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.  As everyone hopes to enjoy Chef Slowik’s (Ralph Fiennes) best courses … they soon realize there might be sinister motives behind the meals.  With this film, it is a masking commentary through the obscure writing of a dark comedy.  The ambiguous tone is leveled in the beginning with a grounded prologue.  We are introduced to the ensemble cast through Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a young couple who (with 10 others) embark on an exclusive trip to eat at the famous restaurant, Hawthorne.  Through conversational moments, we get a description of the island, the workers that help Chef Slowik and a slight layer of mystery of the courses that will be served.  Once the first meal reaches each table, you get a dynamic of subtle commentary (on food) that blends in with satirical motifs, ominous foreshadowing and darkly humor through the ensemble cast.  In each conversation, it becomes a reflection of the restaurant culture, providing context on critics, foodies and those who are ‘obsessed’ with the art of food.  This singular commentary is unique (on one hand) but it provides an interesting throughline between levels of interest and substance to our own culture.  As each meal comes out, there is a unique sense of ‘describing the course’ while relaying it to the folly nature of humanity.  After each meal, the subtle hints of ‘why’ each person was chosen for the night starts to come to the forefront, creating a suspenseful connection between the guest and Chef Slowik.  The situation starts to turn dire, as the guest realize that each meal might be leading to some dark twisted desert. 

As each person faces uncertainty, the night becomes a hubris reflection of their lives.  Each meal twist into an obscure portrait, creating more intense moment of survival.  As everything dances on a fragile thread, the subtlety of moments is lifted by Margot, who provides the ‘onlook’ of uncertainty of the night.  Her contrasting behavior is heightened with the interactions with Chef Slowik, creating an ominous look at the food culture.  As personal choice becomes an endearment of Chef’s desires, this adds to the ongoing obscurities (of the night), creating moments of humor at the expensive of human depravity.  As the purpose of the night comes to its final meal, this leads into a third act of ambiguous detail, making you wonder about one’s desires and worth.  The Menu is a dark comedy that provides a unique spin on food culture.  If you are a fan of dark humor, commentaries and original films, this is one for you.  I think that this is a tale worth seeing at the theaters.   

Full Score – 4 out of 5 (Full Price)

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