THE MENU (REVIEW)
Dir. Mark Mylod
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Mark Mylod cordially invites you to take a reservation at this years most hotly anticipated tasting. Offering horror, comedy and non-stop tension, this tantalising collective of plates hits the right spots.
With an all star cast, at times THE MENU feels like an Agatha Christie mystery as the ingredients dotted around the cast all seem somewhat abstract but knowingly will be combine to give us something to savour.
When twelve guests are welcomed to one of the most established restaurants on the market, each of the guests are able to showboat their wealth and appetite to enjoy the company of such a renowned chef as Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). An aged film star, bankers, an old couple and food critic join young visitors Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) as they sit for an evening of twists and turns without a single turkey twizzler in sight.
Where Mylod's film really stands tall is in its execution. Perfectly pairing a tense atmosphere the sharpest knife could cut through with enough dark humour to release it when needed, somehow THE MENU is one of the meatiest and most enjoyable experiences of a year packed full of sweet treats. Dissecting the dram by each course, there's a feeling that this film is layered in the same experience as the sitting the guests are at, which allows audiences to enjoy each selection in its own merit until they all come together and the theme of the menu becomes apparent.
Touching on the seven deadly sins throughout there are many analogies in which the films script treads around but never force feeds its points to the point they become the theme, instead, like a fine tuned kitchen it delivers each dish and allows its recipients to use their taste buds to experience the flavours it has on offer.
In a sense, THE MENU is knowing in its absurdity and pomposity. The title cards, the dishes (one of which will bring on laughter for all), the presentation of each dish becoming more and more elaborate throughout and as the film becomes more chaotic, so does the formality. Peter Demming's cinematography delivers on the overall experience with such a clean palette that mirrors the beauty of recent films such as A CURE FOR WELLNESS and MIDSOMMAR by claiming every shot as a cinematic screensaver. Every plate, overhead shot, Wes Anderson like delivery of an egg, overarches the delivery of an experience that is more than just a sum of its parts. This is not just about the food, the plot or the character but about the magic of film-making.
Accompanied by a mesmeric score by Colin Stetson whose previous dishes include HEREDITARY and COLOUR OUT OF SPACE brings the constant reminder that no matter how comfortable you become, something dark is only a sampling away.
And with all of this it's hard to forget the real star of the show, Chef Slowik himself, Mr Ralph Fiennes. Always in control, the little twitches from welcoming sincerity to inner cowardice and back into ferocious host and mercenary is effortless. Every moment of dialogue, every shot of his face, every presentation of food is done with such ease and emotion that it's hard not to feel mesmerised no matter how far down the rabbit hole this menu takes us.
Capturing a brilliantly satirical yet cleverly played mystery on the pros and cons of criticism in its many forms, Seth Reiss and Will Tracy's script is a poignant reminder of class, stature and humanity all delivered with a sly smile that it all really means very little in the end.
THE MENU is an experience, a culinary treat for film lovers and one that boasts a fantastic cast at their A game. Anya Taylor-Joy proves once more why she is the poster girl for horror and it's great to see an advocate for the genre in her prime still waving the flag, in addition to Hoult who never faulters.
If there's a seat going near you, you are the recipient of an invitation to enjoy the most prestigious event of the year.