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The Menu

The Menu

Synopsis:
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.

A fine dining experience turns sinister in . Margot Mills () is a young woman who joins her new boyfriend Tyler () on a trip to a coastal island in the Pacific Northwest to dine at the exclusive restaurant Hawthorne, run by esteemed Chef Julian Slowik (). The restaurant only allows 12 clientele at a time, paying $1250 a head, with the other diners including tech bros Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro) and Dave (Mark St. Cyr), regular visitors Anne and Richard Liebbrandt (Judith Light and ), restaurant critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) and her magazine editor Ted (Paul Adelstein), and a past his prime movie star () with his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero). Lead to the tables by hostess Elsa (); Chef Slowik unveils his elaborate menu with unexpected dishes and events that begin to unnerve the unsuspecting guests.

The Menu is a satirical fine dining thriller directed by Mark Mylod (HBO's Succession). The film stars Ralph Fiennes as celebrated Chef Julian Slowik, who has created a carefully planned menu for a specific group of people. However, these plans go awry by the unexpected presence of Anya Taylor-Joy's Margot, who was a last-minute replacement for her boyfriend Tyler's original date. While Tyler goes all-in on this culinary experience, Margot barely touches the very unconventional dishes. When wild and violent events accompany later courses, Margot has to find a way to make it out of this dining experience alive.

Divided into chapters titled after the various courses of this elaborate meal, The Menu is a well-executed mix of dark comedy and thriller elements while featuring a fair amount of food porn, which will likely leave viewers feeling hungry, though probably not for fine dining. The Menu is best seen knowing little specifics about what is served during this meal. However, I can say that the film is a satirical breakdown of the wealthy elite, who often make up the clientele of fine dining restaurants, ranging from food critics who scrutinize every course, regulars who don't even remember what was served, and, worst of all, jerks who believe they are invincible because they work for the restaurant's investor.

This brings us to the protagonists of Margot and Tyler. While Tyler is a hardcore foodie, who pretends to know what he is talking about and often sneaks photos of the dishes, Margot is the true outsider of these diners. This catches the attention of Julian Slowik, who desperately wants to know if Margot belongs with the self-centred takers of the clientele or the givers of the service staff. The decision that she makes could end up having enormous consequences.

Overall, The Menu is a recommended satire that will likely leave you rethinking the concept of fine dining.

Trailer for The Menu

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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