The Menu (2022) Movie Review – A high concept of class with humor served on the side

A high concept of class with humor served on the side

Dissing the rich has become a thing in films. This new consciousness among modern filmmakers has been met with great reception. Triangle of Sadness, Parasite, and Glass Onion are some of the most successful instances of recent times. For obvious reasons of numerical superiority, none of these features have done badly.

A coincidence is that all of them are great movies and Mark Mylod’s avant garde, darkly humorous, and insanely serious The Menu perhaps tops the list. As bizarre as the setting and events of the film are, Mylod has carefully assembled each frame, sentence, and impact in his narrative. The storytelling is so detail-oriented and refined, you’d think you’re having one of Chef Slowik’s special offerings. Perhaps that is intentional?

Like all great horror films, The Menu beckons its characters to arrive at an isolated, high-end, exclusive edifice of exploitation – Hawthorne. It is lavishly placed on a private island and the world-renowned Chef Slowik will be preparing the courses. Margot (Anna Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) are among several others who will dine at the restaurant that night but there is a catch.

Writing about what that catch is difficult without giving the essence of the film away. Mylod’s ocean of ideas and philosophies is neatly stacked to jolt you one after the other, like Slowik’s dishes, do the diners. And by some witchcraft, they are all interlinked.

The most obvious driver for the film is the exploitative culture that capitalism and corporates have fostered these days. The Menu mainly focuses on the service industry and how the dynamics have become toxic for the incumbents. This includes not only the servers but also the chefs. We have all seen Slowik-like figures that have lost their love for what they do.

Even besides him, some other sous-chefs presented the same view during the film. A very impressive feature that came out last year, Boiling Point, worked on a similar premise. But even beyond the service industry, there are marked comments about the other actors in the play like the enthusiast (Tyler), financiers (Doug Verrick and his associates), and the consumers (Reed Birney and Judith Light).

Almost every character here represents a sub-segment of different constituents of the ecosystem, giving The Menu a very compelling, wholesome look. But, Mylod’s intervention does not just stop there. Larger superstructures around class and wealth accentuate the film’s appeal. That element makes it comparable to other recent films that diss the rich like Parasite, Triangle of Sadness, and Glass Onion. A movement like this is unprecedented and this new cinema is unapologetically inclined to expose the hypocrisy prevalent for decades.

There is plenty of “food for thought” in The Menu’s flavorful dissection of the above. But there is hardly any breathing space for you. Mylod wants you to take the experience first-hand without too much processing of those ideas and be jaunted by their visceral nature. The representation itself is so jarring that it makes the underlying notion make an imprint in your memory in some style.

The Menu definitely lingers around for long after you have finished watching it. The unexpected ending must be taken as a reminder for those in Hawthorn’s manic staff positions.

In that sense of interpretation, The Menu serves as a cautionary tale for the decaying state of things. Debauchery in the dining circles is washed with words like opportunity, lifestyle, and a terrible want for perfection. But keeping all that aside, the most enjoyable part about The Menu is its sharp, unabashedly deadpan humour. Fiennes and Hong Chau (who plays Elsa) deliver some of the most memorable and funniest lines from cinema in 2022. Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy take inspiration from an SNL-style treatment of the subject that perhaps makes it easier for you to digest.

Tragedy minced with satire and drama is the ablest combination writers aspire to create these days. The Menu does exactly that. With a crisp running time, phenomenal set design, and inspired performances, led by Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor Joy, The Menu is a puzzling, confrontational masterpiece that every cinema lover must see. It is the kind of art that rarely comes to the fore this beautifully. Do not miss out on this opportunity to watch it!

 

Read More: The Menu Ending Explained


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  • Verdict - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
8.5/10

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