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'The Menu' (LFF Review) - Ralph Fiennes shines in this year's darkest and weirdly funny restaurant satire

'The Menu' is filled with a lot of twists and turns that manage to keep viewers at the edge of their seats.
Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy in 'The Menu' (Searchight Pictures)
Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy in 'The Menu' (Searchight Pictures)

There was a lot of excitement about this year's SURPRISE FILM at the London Film Festival and people didn't stop guessing the title until the very last moment. Some believed that it would be Steven Spielberg's 'The Fabelmans', while others felt that they would be seeing Cate Blanchett's epic performance in 'TAR'. However, no one knew exactly which films it was going to be. After waiting for it for almost 4 hours, we finally got to know which movie was going to be this year's Surprise Film and it was none other than 'The Menu', starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya-Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult in pivotal roles. 

The movie primarily focuses on a young couple who get a chance to visit an exclusive destination restaurant on a remote island where the acclaimed chef has prepared a lavish menu, along with shocking surprises. The celebrity chef, Slowik, is known for his lavish molecular gastronomy menu where food is treated as conceptual art. However, his approach to every cuisine is really unique and has some shocking surprises for the wealthy guests. Directed by Mark Mylod from a screenplay by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss, 'The Menu' is a bold, dark, and twisted satire that features a lot of surprises and keeps viewers at the edge of their seats by changing gears continuously. It's one of those movies that is filled with so many twists and turns that audiences will not see coming.


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A still from 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)
A still from 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)

So, 'The Menu' starts with Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Hoult) heading to an island where the five-star restaurant Hawthorne, run by celebrity chef Slowik (Fiennes), is located. The couple is joined by several other notable personalities as well, including a movie star (John Leguizamo), a food critic (Janet McTeer), rich finance guys (Rob Yang, Arturo Castro, and Mark St. Cyr) and two of Slowik's most loyal customers (Reed Birney and Judith Light). Everyone believes they are in for a treat as they are the few lucky ones getting a chance to relish the new menu designed by the chef. However, things change drastically when the Chef starts making people uncomfortable by doing things that are extremely weird. A nice fine-dining experience suddenly becomes a terrifying ordeal for all the guests. If you are a fan of movies that never stop giving surprises, 'The Menu' is surely going to satisfy you. It's full of shocking moments and the twists and turns are so unexpected that it will force you to keep guessing what's going to happen next. 

The film also includes powerful commentary about rich people not giving a damn about anything and trying to consume everything. It also talks about how the privileged class tends to abuse people working in the hospitality and service industry. This happens all the time and people believe that if they are in a restaurant and paying money for their food, it gives them the right to bully the service provider with their harmful comments. That's why no one is safe on the private island.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot in 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)
Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot in 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)

Margot is the only member of the group who has kind of the upper hand in this situation because she wasn't Tyler's original date for the treat, so she's someone for whom Slowik wasn't prepared. 

As far as acting is concerned, Ralph Fiennes gives a scintillating performance as the celebrity chef who is tired of watching rich people taking everything for granted. With his acting skills, Fiennes shows that his character owns the kitchen and all the people working there as well. As the movie progresses, he turns into a terrifying person who's in no mood to stop and his commanding onscreen presence makes everyone believe that this is something special. Meanwhile, Anya Taylor-Joy is as good as Fiennes. She stands toe-to-toe with Fiennes in some of the most extraordinary scenes in the film. The actress has once again shown why she is one of the brightest talents working in the industry now.

Ralph Fiennes as Slowik in 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)
Ralph Fiennes as Slowik in 'The Menu' (Searchlight Pictures)

On the other hand, the entire ensemble is really solid. They do a wonderful job in making people believe how truly terrified they are during the entire situation and how they manage to show their own bigotry in front of everyone. 

Overall, 'The Menu' is an entertaining satire that hits all the right notes and features one of the year's best ensembles. Brilliantly directed and superbly written, 'The Menu' is a story that is told in a satisfying manner and takes viewers on a journey after which they might not have an appetite for having anything too fancy. However, they won't be able to forget it for a very long time. Nevertheless, have a nice cheeseburger after the film ends.