Don Reviews "The Menu"
I worked in the restaurant business for over twenty-five years in some form going as far back as my high school days in establishments ranging from those five-diamond rated to local diners in roles from dishwasher to corporate headquarters. From those days, I will never forget when in 1992 at one of the finest restaurants in Montana I helped cook the dinner of (at that time) Vice President Dan Quayle. Knowing how cut-throat the business of fine dining is, I was very interested to see how this all fits into “The Menu”.
Directed by Mark Mylod (Shameless, Game of Thrones) and starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, John Leguizamo, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Judith Light and Reed Birney, this film takes place on a fifteen-acre island that houses a world-famous exclusive restaurant run by Chef Slowik (Fiennes). Each customer pays $1,250 for a multi-course dinner over a four-hour period where the food is an art form. On this particular night, the guest list includes a wealthy couple, three men that are Wall Street gurus, another couple who are world famous food critics, a has-been actor (Leguizamo) with his assistant, and Tyler (Hoult) who is bringing a different guest than who was originally scheduled in Margot (Taylor-Joy). The dinner starts off as any high-end dinner would where as the chef explains each course as it arrives, but as the evening goes on, things start to get crazy in one of the most interesting dinner parties I have ever seen, much less in a film.
Visually, “The Menu” keeps things simple with a vast majority taking place in the restaurant itself in a way where the building works itself into the story on its own. Even though this is a dark film, I can see some major nominations coming out of it at least for Fiennes. He plays the role of a world-class chef “with some issues” incredibly while Chau’s performance as a form of head manager who wants to pay attention to restaurant etiquette takes the role to a new level.
At a little over an hour and forty-five minutes the pacing is just about right, which really comes through in how much I LOVED THIS SCRIPT. There is some violence but there are also quite a few times where I found myself laughing out loud. This film felt like if you had a “recipe” of:
1. One part of the darkness and gore of “Se7en”.
2. One part of the dark plot twists from “Saw”.
3. Add in the intensity and restaurant stress of “Burnt”.
4. Knead in the food from “Chef” (yes, this film made me hungry).
5. Drizzle in 2 parts the comedy of “Shaun of the Dead” and “The Dead Don’t Die”.
Combine all into a theater and watch for just under two hours for “The Menu”. I was truly surprised on how good the film was to the point where just about everyone in the screening laughed multiple times throughout it. Be warned this film is dark, but I giving this the coveted full price in the theaters recommendation.