The Menu is a dark comedy from 2022 about a group of guests who are invited to a private island where they are to enjoy exclusive culinary delights from a famous celebrity chef. As the evening develops, some big surprises are in store, and not just of the edible kind.
The movie starts off a little bit like a whodunit with everyone gathered together in one remote place for reasons unknown, before settling into the titular menu as the guests get to enjoy Chef Slowik's (Ralph Fiennes) eccentric dishes. It's Anya Taylor-Joy's Margot (she wasn't actually invited but got in there at the last minute) who starts to suspect that something is amiss when the dishes appear to hint at genuine hostility towards the guests. This leads to a butting of heads with the intimidating chef and one heck of a twist that changes everything.
The Menu was a bold move: on the surface, it just doesn't look like anything all that special or interesting. You'd almost expect a straight-up celebration of food with some humor and sass thrown in, like Ratatouille meets Jon Favreau's Chef or something. The subtly gloomy tone getting increasingly dark, however, throws a wrench into your expectations and it'll leave you either giddily going along for the ride, excited about what might happen next, or scratching your head with frustration.
While The Menu, perhaps, never quite gets as nuts as it could have gone (though it does get pretty wild) there is something devilish about inviting the audience, much like the guests in the movie, to enjoy a piece of art -or a menu- as they then find the spotlight turned onto themselves. If this movie is a middle finger to the whole arts industry, then it is a middle finger to some of us in the audience also, though ideally we can relate more to the likes of Margot rather than any of the other guests.
The Menu is a refreshingly cruel pitch black comedy in the vein of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover which will surprise, entertain and likely become a cult film in the years to come.