“You don’t think Chef is mad at me, do you?”Tyler
Mark Mylod’s gastronomic satirical thriller skewers the “foodie” world with relish, pairing a deconstruction of the participants with a zesty assault on how it serves to drain the joy of food that should sit at its heart. A handful of diners have been invited to an exclusive tasting menu at Chef Slowik’s remote island restaurant. The wild card, and audience perspective, is Margot — a last minute substitution by Tyler when dumped by his girlfriend. Anya Taylor-Joy’s expressiveness is perfect for Margot’s utter disdain for the theatrics taken so seriously by the guests — she is the only one to realise they are being insulted, and confident enough to refuse to play Slowik’s game. Meanwhile the verisimilitude of the meticulously constructed food and minimalist decor creates a distorted space within which it feels the film could frequently veer in any direction. The Menu presents the world as split into servers and consumers, though it satirises both sides of the divide: Slowik’s self-obsession is no better than the diners’, albeit more purposeful, holding his staff in cult-like sway. The film’s cruelty, however, is reserved predominantly for the wealthy, its wider critique being the blight of capitalism and its widening inequality. The food critics engaged in competitive intellectual snobbery may also make a certain type of film critic squirm uncomfortably. At its best The Menu is deliciously unexpected and, although it runs a little too long in reaching “an ending that ties everything together conceptually”, the final course is a satisfying conclusion to a most unpredictable meal.