CLAP. The Menu is an excellent movie that really came out of nowhere. Mark Mylod created a tasteful critique of the elite that really does it in a unique way. While the message isn't too original (rich bad), the execution of said message is splendid. The incredible Anya-Taylor Joy tries to survive a fine dining experience gone wrong (or right depending on your point of view). Mylod tells a story fraught with suspense, humor, and intrigue woven around themes of arrogance, elitism, and passion for your craft. I won't spoil anything, but let's dig in.
The Appetizer: The Plot
As I said, the theme of the plot isn't too original, the rich are bad, working class matters, yada yada yada, but the way those themes are shown is definitely unique. The movie is set up in "courses" with Chef carefully explaining each dish he and his crew makes, usually followed by some event, big or small. Obviously the level of event increases over time, building suspense as to what will follow each dish. There is a lot of suspense, but very few "scares", as this tends to be more of a mystery/suspense movie than a horror one. What's going on is pretty obvious, but it's still a delight seeing Ralph Fiennes' Chef going from one dramatic meal to the next, leaving you on your toes as to how he is going to go about his main objective. The theme, while not too original, still hits home, chastising us for losing our passions in our art/jobs. The movie's lean 1 hour and 45 minutes runtime is perfect, and I wish movies would get the hint and keep showtimes just as short.
The Main Course: The Acting
The acting is clearly the strength of this film, largely carried by Anya Taylor Joy and Ralph Fiennes. They absolutely shine in each scene together, and I fell in love with their dynamic, especially the last scene between them. Nicholas Hoult nails his role as well, playing the oblivious foodie to a T. I show my students a lifetime movie every year about Domestic Abuse, and Judith Light plays the abuser and nails the role. So when I heard she was in this movie, I was beyond excited, but she is woefully underused. She has some nice quiet moments, but really isn't given much to do. Besides that though the rest of the cast does their jobs wonderfully, and really make this movie worth watching. Ralph Fiennes plays the diabolical chef well, and he deserves to be nominated for one of those stupid awards we all care about for some reason. Even though the plot and theme can be a bit bland at times, the actors of this movie are the seasoning that give it all the flavor it needs.
The Dessert: The Summary
The Menu boasts an impressive cast, sharp writing, and beautiful scenery, the perfect ingredients for a good movie. The plot might be a bit overdone, but the tension is real and the message is important, and Fiennes and Joy are a delight to watch on screen together.