A dark comedy that serves
Released in late 2022, The Menu is a black comedy with a whole lot to say. In a year full of Barbenheimer hype, it is worth revisiting now that it is available to stream.
Anna Taylor Joy plays Margot, half of a young couple about to go to an exclusive dining experience on a remote island. It is clear early on that she is ill at ease with the displays of opulence and strange menu items. Throughout, the audience learns more about the protagonist, and why she feels she is out of place. Seated in the room are finance bros, a famous food critic, and a famous actor whose career peaked in the 1990s (played by John Leguizamo).
Ralph Fiennes plays Julian Slowik, a celebrity chef seemingly obsessed with delivering, and with a cultlike following from the people who work for him on the island. As the film goes on, we find out more about his motivations as things get progressively more disturbing. Fiennes shows a subtle sense of menace throughout.
Throughout the film, we see different stages of the menu. Every item is named and described on screen, a device that separates the film into discrete chapters. Each additional item turns the usual cycles of consumption back on the guests, with gruesome and sometimes hilarious results. As director Mark Mylod has previously said in a previous interview, the film aims to both observe the cruelty of the food industry while also paying tribute to those who are part of it.
“When I got involved, I did my own personal dive into that world to educate myself on how it worked and the level of commitment and the stress of maintaining that extraordinary level of art night after night,” he said.
“It destroys people. It’s incredibly high pressure.”
It is somewhat hard to place The Menu’s genre. The film is perhaps best described as part black comedy and part horror film, with sections that are as poignant as they are dark. For Christians, there is much to consider from this film, given how much of scripture lobbies criticism at the wealthy for hording wealth.
As this suggests, The Menu will not be to everyone’s liking. This is a violent, dark story that does not pull any punches. There are displays of gore and references to sexual misconduct throughout. For this reason, Insights’ recommendation of the film is heavily qualified. Nonetheless, those who can sit through each course will be treated to some thoughtful commentary on our society’s dividing people into classes of server and consumer.
The Menu is streaming now on Disney Plus.