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The Menu is a Biting Satire on Snobbery in the Food Industry

Saiba Haque reviews The Menu, a darkly comic culinary thriller starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas Hoult.

By Saiba Haque, Third Year, Politics and Philosophy

The Menu proves itself to be astonishingly hilarious yet still brimming with thrills. From the creators of Succession (2018-), The Menu is a satirical comedy horror that cleverly exposes the toxicity and elitism which adamantly lurks within the food industry.

The movie follows a young couple, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), along with a few small groups of other wealthy and elite people, who are invited to an elite and exclusive restaurant on a remote island.

The Menu (2022) // Courtesy of IMDB, Eric Zachanowich and 20th Century Fox

Here esteemed chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), has prepared an intricate and lavish menu for the evening. With every course served, many shocking revelations emerge about the Slowik and his intentions for the evening, and about the inflated egos of his pretentious guests.

The pacing is excellent and the plot unravels seamlessly, maintaining the interest and anticipation of the audience. The characters are engaging and interesting to watch, and the choice of cast is exemplary.

Hong Chau’s character, Elsa, was strikingly entertaining with her deadpan delivery and passive-aggressive nature towards the unlikeable and pretentious diners. It’s rather shocking (yet satisfying) to see their heinous secrets being revealed throughout the film.

The Menu (2022) // Courtesy of IMDB, Eric Zachanowich and 20th Century Fox

It is later revealed that all of these guests have been invited not because of their status, but because each and every one of them ruined Julian's passion for food and for culinary endeavours.

Julian theatrically reveals that everyone will die that evening, including himself and the other chefs. He believes that everyone in the restaurant was responsible for taking the joy out of cooking and eating, and that they all deserved to die.

Ralph Fiennes delivers an Oscar-worthy performance with subtle intensity. There is a magnetic and cult-leader-like nature to him in the way his kitchen staff operate and respond to him. His manner of presenting his dishes also mimics the real show-boating nature of the elite food industry and how it promotes meaningless presentation over true sustenance.

The Menu (2022) // Courtesy of IMDB, Eric Zachanowich and 20th Century Fox

The dishes, although aesthetically pleasing and artistic, contain very little actual food; an establishment which promises sustenance and substance, mostly just delivers with half-hearted concepts. Although Julian claims to be a victim of this system of commodities, he is also a part of the problem for perpetuating it.

Initially, Margot seems like the antithesis of Julian and his culinary elitism. Indeed, as Margot rejects Julian’s final dish and asks him for a “cheeseburger with American cheese”, we finally see the joy that Julian found in cooking when he first started his journey.

The film also does its due diligence in making fun of the pretentious and wealthy who pretend to know what they are talking about when, in reality, they are absolutely clueless. Although this is demonstrated by all the diners, it is mostly illustrated through Tyler, the self-proclaimed food connoisseur, and Lillian (Janet McTeer), the ever so ostentatious food critic.

The Menu (2022) // Courtesy of IMDB, Eric Zachanowich and 20th Century Fox

The relationship between Margot and Tyler is particularly intriguing. While Margot is revealed to be an uninvited outsider who is more down-to-earth, Tyler is presented as a snob who claims to know all about food and desperately wants to be acknowledged by the chef. Yet, he doesn’t actually know how to cook, he is just a foodie who doesn’t know the actual value of food; a fact which is revealed later rather humiliatingly.

When I first heard of this movie, I naturally assumed cannibalism would somehow be involved within the plot. I was so wrong about that! I was absolutely delighted by the surprising nature of what this movie has to offer. It is funny and thrilling whilst also successfully making important class commentary.

If you’ve been watching Succession, you will definitely take a liking to this. I would go as far as to say that this movie is one of the best 2022 has to offer.

Featured Image: IMDB, Eric Zachanowich and 20th Century Fox

Have you seen this devilishly delicious thriller?