The Menu is a truly unique movie that challenges the viewer while giving them a fresh experience. And truly, I’m upset with myself for sleeping on it. From the cast to the the meaning behind it all, it weaves together a story of opulence and losing that spark for life. And what do you do when that happens? Well, extreme things like inviting a group of rich folks to an island for a mysterious dinner. Bon appétit.
1. The meaning behind it.
Without giving too much away, The Menu is about appreciating things. Yes, it’s about appreciating food. The title makes that obvious. But it’s about appreciating the time you have on this planet, the people you are with, the experiences you have, and the people who make this world go round. It’s also about appreciating service workers and coming together as people. Because if the trailer didn’t clue you in, this is story about the rich and disconnected. They experience a curated form of life. And is it truly living if you’re disconnected from the joys of this world? The face of the head chef below should be answer enough to how he feels about that.
2. Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen Taylor-Joy around, a lot. I work in TV/film after all. But that doesn’t mean I’ve sat down to watch The Queen’s Gambit or Emma. They never appealed to me so I’ve missed out what makes this actress so fascinating. She commands the room in subtle ways before exploding and drawing the eye to everything and anything that she is doing. And with The Menu she outshined other performers like Ralph Fiennes, who I don’t personally agree with but can agree with his talent. Now I see the hype for Taylor-Joy. And I will absolutely be giving her work more of a chance when it comes to her projects.
3. The assholes.
Every good movie needs a good villain. Or a couple. The Menu has that and then some. But you’d be surprised to find that there are assholes on all sides of this movie. From the chefs to the people that are being tested themselves, they are all guilty of something. And through this experience they’ll either come to accept this fact or change. Either way, they are assholes at this moment. And their actions have brought them to this point. Honestly, it’s easy to hate them all in varying degrees. But this movie doesn’t forget that they’re human and flawed. That makes for a richer experience. Because even these assholes can experience regret, acceptance, and true fear.
4. The food.
Like Margot/Erin I wasn’t impressed by the food. It was pretentious and lacked love. Like the theme of the film it was meant to sell an experience that only the rich and wealthy can have. And it feels like a shift from the narrative back in the day that the bigger and more plentiful your parties/meals were, the more money you had and you belonged to a higher social class. Now it’s refined tiny portions that scream control. And you could see that this movie took the time to deliver that message with every course until the very end. Even the smores. (Yes, this movie has smores and it’s also an experience that must be watched.)
5. The slow and steady intensity.
Every single moment of The Menu is meant to wind you up. It’s meticulously planned to lure you into a false sense of security. But even when the rug is pulled out from under your feet, you feel untethered. Because it’s not what it seems. None of it is. Combine that with the acting of Taylor-Joy and Fiennes and you end up realizing that you are tense AF. And it’s not like this movie doesn’t have payoff. It does. It’s not like other movies that don’t follow through. But dear lord, I don’t know if I can take another well crafted movie like this again without a palate cleanser in between. Something to chill the nerves and unwind after the powerful performances of everyone on screen.