Film Review – The Menu (2022)

Anya Taylor Joy and Raplh Fiennes in The Menu

Even on holiday I have to get my cinema fix, That came on my first full day in Tokyo, Japan.  Ending the day  with a trip to the local Toho cinema in Shinjuku which has Godzilla above it. A late night screening,  and Japanese ticket prices are very similar to the UK.  Got my ticket, favourite cinematic snacks (cheaper than home) headed to my seat, to watch The Menu which was shown in English with Japanese subtitles.

Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult star in this fiendishly delightful dark comedy horror that presents itself as a smorgasbord of culinary assaults. Surprisingly a film from Mark Mylord a filmmaker whose last cinematic outing was the forgettable  nightmare  rom-com What’s Your Number ? (2011) starring Anna Farris. However he is also the director of the multi award winning Sky Atlantic series Succession…All is forgiven!

A couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travel to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive Hawthorne  restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Art culture, even the film culture have all found themselves targeted. Very few cultures are left without a bullseye left on it. The food culture has yet until now had a fun dig at it , especially the high end fine dinning. To many of us a trip to a chain restaurants, speciality joints to many of us might visit a posh highbrow joint once in a lifetime… if we are lucky.

But this is no place you go to eat, if your  hungry. Chef Julian Slowik (Fiennes), his exclusive island retreat Hawthorne is  a sought after place and for those looking for an ‘experience’ , usually the suer rich.

To eat here, you need to fork out $1,250 per person.  A restaurant which it’s patrons  who splash the cash as much as we buy scratch cards or lottery cards hoping for the mega win that would give us that comfortable lifestyle.

Hoult is that fan boy Tyler who lives off the twaddle critics spew out. Margot (Taylor-Joy) his date , isn’t taking any of the clap trap, she’s just wants to eat. She is a cynic and Chef Slowik  starts to suss that, but also that she maybe no stranger to his establishment.

John Leguizamo is the washed up actor with his assistant who is on the brink of quitting her job. Others joining them are three repulsive Alpha male low end management jocks from the company that run the joint. Also fierce food critic and her editor  who are food snobs, then the older wealthy couple who are regulars to the island.

Are they all just strangers or do they have connections? The film plays like a whodunnit for each course,  and even from the moment we meet them all at the start. Elsa (Hong Chau) Julian’s restaurant manager gives the island tour which shows they all stay on the island. Living in prison like living quarters, to answering all questions, clamping down on any complaints. Chau is fantastic, sharp as a soux chef’s knife. Chef himself is near zen like but militaristic and his staff obey him on cue.

The Menu is deliciously satirical, not about the food but the culture, the mindset and even snobbery around the culture. The film plays like that roasting joint  simmering in a slow cooker and course by course builds the tension. Those courses get crazier to a point they gets more unhinged  than chef Slowik. The less you know about The Menu plot the better, even the trailer spoils the broth. This  a social commentary that  showcases the super wealthy getting their just desserts. Not one served cold but one served fiery and with big marshmallows.


Comedy, Horror | USA, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | Searchlight Pictures | Dir.Mark Mylord | Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Ralph Fiennes, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, John Leguizamo, Paul Adelstein

Originally posted at The Peoples Movies 5th December 2022 | original review link.

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