Intriguingly original and comedically dark, The Menu is a humorous and violent film that features fantastic performances, yet the meal fails to deliver a satisfying final course.
A visit to an exclusive island restaurant by a couple (Any Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) turns into something completely unexpected in The Menu. Ralph Fiennes must love playing these villainous roles, here depicting a chef who treats his guests to a lavish meal with a devious intent. Taylor-Joy is the star in The Menu, her presence felt throughout with her strong, unwavering character. Hoult is equally impactful on the film, his nice guy aura breaking down as the film roles on. Without the three of them, as well as the supporting cast that includes Judith Light, Reed Birney, and John Leguizamo, the film would fall flat. Instead, their commitment to the unique ideas of The Menu make it palatable.
The problem with director Mark Mylod’s film is that there isn’t much backstory explored beyond the plot points that are fed to you through character dialogue and strange pacing. It results in a hunger for more, especially as the somewhat insane finale is delivered rather quickly following a truly strange development. With such talent in the cast, there could have been a better study of the supporting cast. It all takes place upon a visually simplistic set (a restaurant) with muted color tones that invoke a suspicious tension. The visuals and cinematography do for The Menu what the bright color palette of Midsommar did for that film.
Still, The Menu is a fun dissection of class and revenge in a surprisingly violent film that is a nice diversion from the blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls of the winter months.
The Menu hits theaters Friday.