• Great weird, subversive feel
  • Great casting
  • Good dark humor
  • Falls a little flat in climax
  • Satirical feel not as strong as it should be

Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy are matched with a great ensemble cast in Mark Mylod’s dark satire about the send-up of the rich and the failed “art” of cooking.


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.

This is the third film I’ve seen this year concerned with punishing the upper class, behind “Triangle of Sadness” and “Glass Onion.” I guess we can call 2022 the cinematic year of “Tax the Rich.” All japes aside, director Mark Mylod’s “The Menu” is a dark comedy about a group of elite guests gathering to eat a sequence of meals prepared by the enigmatic celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes, terrifyingly great). What they don’t expect, however, are the sinister plans Slowik and his chefs have in store for the night. Among the guests are food critic Lillian and her editor Ted (Janet McTeer and Paul Adelstein, hilarious chemistry), elderly couple Richard and Anne (Reed Birney and Judith Light), has-been movie star George (John Leguizamo, solid), his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero, great) and a trio of guys who work close with Slowik’s angel investor – Soren, Dave and Bryce (Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr and Rob Yang). The main guest we focus on throughout however is Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy, terrific), invited by Slowik fanboy Tyler (Nicholas Hoult, funny). Margot is new to this world and almost in stitches over her date’s excitement over the incoming dinner.

As the night unfolds, Slowik and his chefs bring out abstract dishes, each dish having a strange postmodernist theme. As most of the guests act enthused or pretend to understand the deeper meaning to Slowik’s dishes, Margot takes everything in, knowing things are not as they seem. Slowik has ill intentions and has a bone to pick with each and every one of his guests – except Margot. Her presence alone makes Slowik and his chefs uneasy as she is not an expected guest, being switched in by Tyler last minute. At some point in the night, Slowik gives her a tough decision to make – “either you’re with them or you’re with us”. Either you’re with the rich or you’re with the ones who tap-dance and serve the rich. As the layers and secrets of Margot’s character are unwrapped, this question becomes tougher to answer as more (controlled) chaotic things happen throughout the night.

The ensemble cast here is great – Janet McTeer and Paul Adelstein are a great team as everything Lillian says in regards to a dish, her editor Ted never fails to agree, even changing his original differing opinion. Aimee Carrero has great understated moments in contrast to John Leguizamo as her character Felicity is critical or snide about almost everything her employer says, knowing that he is a star past his prime. And, the third-best thing about this film (behind Taylor-Joy and Fiennes) is Hong Chau, playing the diligent and slightly intimidating Elsa, the maitre d’ (“you will have less than you desire, more than you deserve”, she warns a group of patrons). Nicholas Hoult matches well with Anya Taylor-Joy but works better on his own as his character Tyler becomes increasingly (and disturbingly) more obsessive about grasping Slowik’s attention (culminating in one of the most painful, humiliating scenes of the year).

Mark Mylod handles the direction of this dark comedy well, inserting humorous intertitles of every dish that comes up throughout the night. There’s also a rhythmic flow to the way each cut follows Slowik abruptly clapping his hands and dishes being rushed out soon after. The film falters a bit in its climax, the final dish having a great disturbing effect but the means by which resolutions are made are confounding and not justified well. But the film’s strongest factor is its writing – there are deep themes within Seth Reiss and Will Tracy’s script about the ever-growing battle of art vs passion. Slowik has always had passion behind his craft of cooking but overtime his passion grew into an artform and that artform thrived (and survived) off profit. Unfortunately, this made way for commerce to make that horrific, painful barrier between art and passion. Slowik is no doubt a villain but if you’re anyone who’s had passion for anything in your life, he’s a villain you understand as the film unfolds. His art has always been taken for granted, so much that when you boil it down to its harshest form, it’s just art for art’s sake. “Don’t eat, taste”, he tells his guests at one point, but how can you taste something that has no passion behind its creation? This is the bone Slowik has to pick with his overpaid guests that take everything (even great cooking) for granted. That kind of motivation for a villain is ingenious and Ralph Fiennes brings it to daring life.

Closing Thoughts
While it’s not a perfect dark comedy, “The Menu” is an entertaining feast, bolstering a great ensemble and a solid dark tale. Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy are paired well as antagonist and protagonist and Hong Chau takes it home in her terrific supporting turn. The theme of “art times passion, divided by commerce” plays well in the writing and Mylod’s slick direction of the festivities heightens the tension throughout. The film leans more into absurd send-ups of the rich rather than serve as a sharp satire of the rich and in the end, it works for the best.


Blak Cinephile
Blak Cinephile is a cinephile who both loves film and loves to write/talk about it. He has a genuine respect for the art of cinema and has always strived to find the line between insightful subjectivity and observant objectivity while constructing his reviews. He believes a deeper understanding (and a deeper love) of cinema is borne through criticism.

Movies for Breakfast BONES AND ALL Review

Previous article

Movies for Breakfast GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO Review

Next article

You may also like


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Movies