What’s on “The Menu”



Jude Winslow, Opinion and Entertainment writer

By now, you may have heard of Mary Mylod’s The Menu. To give a quick breakdown, The Menu is a satirical thriller mystery about a group of wealthy socialites, each guest more pretentious than the last, taken to the exclusive small island restaurant, Hawthorne, managed by the enigmatic celebrity chef Julian Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes.

Among the attendees is Margo, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Throughout the night, Slowik and his army of culinary underlings serve the guests a series of increasingly abnormal courses.

As each course is introduced, a special spotlight fan cam moment appears, presenting the dish, its name, and its peculiar ingredients. Slowik’s menu plan delivers insults displaying his contempt for the elite that pay for a so-called “fine dining” experience.

The first course, The Island, contains scallops, various plants and flowers, as well as slightly frozen sea water served on basic rocks resembling the nutrients of entire ecosystems consumed by the guests on a normal basis.

In the second course, Breadless Bread Plate, Slowik presents the bread portion of the meal which lacks any form of real bread explaining bread to be the common man’s food and that the guests are above such “measly” sustenance.

The third course, Chicken Tacos with Scissors, is presented harmlessly enough but creates the turning point of the film. Slowik quickly changes the mood, providing a grim detailed account of a horrid childhood memory in which he stabbed his drunk father in the leg with a pair of scissors to defend his mother on “Taco Tuesday”. The tacos are thus served to the guests, presented with tortillas plastered with imagery of dirty deeds committed by each of the guests.

The courses continue to be brought out to tarnish and shame the attendees for their elitism that has taken them out of touch with common society. Each person symbolizes what has caused Slowik to lose love for his profession.

This is found when the film reaches its final course before dessert, Margo, who due to her less fortunate background and profession has earned her the mutual respect of Slowik, requests an All-American Cheeseburger with fries.

As Slowik attends to Margo’s order providing him with the chance to showcase what food should be and reminding Slowik of his long-lost passion for preparing meals for people to genuinely enjoy. After presenting the burger to Margo and being moved by her reaction to his natural cooking, he grants her freedom for her understanding.

Now looking back, despite struggling to understand the film’s true message at first, this film serves as a perfect satire about class divisions in dining and the toxic food culture that surrounds it.

Behind the scenes of the film, the titular menu was designed by chef Dominque Crenn, the only female chef from the United States to receive three Michelin stars according to Masterclass. Crenn’s crafting of dishes pokes fun at the elitist high-end dining experience most evident in my favorite dish of the film, the breadless bread plate.

Classism can also be found in the film’s screenplay, such as each character’s profession and personal obsession. First, there is Tyler, Margo’s date, played by Nicholas Hoult. The ultimate foodie who knows all there is to know about food, but when it comes time to make dinner, he can’t cook to save his soul.

Other characters include Lillian Bloom, played by Janet McTeer, who is the food critic that supposedly founded the talent of Slowik. Bloom serves as both the beginning and end of many chefs’ careers, just like many food critics today, scoffing at the slightest imperfection in their soup.

Then of course you have the three business bros who resemble those people you see all the time dining in the most expensive restaurants you can think of and do everything except actually enjoying and appreciating what they are eating.

The high-end culture can also be examined through The Menu’s production values as well. Costume designer Amy Westcott’s fashion-conscious designs also help visualize The Menu’s upper-class tone from the beforementioned Lillian Bloom’s fashionable attire to Margo’s more simple but elegant apparel symbolizing the class divide and economic difference between the two characters.

The acting is solid, from the supporting cast who are hilarious and good at playing people you love to hate to Taylor-Joy and Fiennes who make one of the strangest lead character mashups I have ever seen.

Lastly, when you have director Mark Mylod, famous for his work on the hit HBO series Succession, another interesting story about the upper class, you know you’re in for something that will get you thinking about today’s society even if it’s in the form of comedy.

The way Mylod tackles this screenplay and explores the themes of class, elitism, and morality through social satire is masterful and puts Mylod down as one of the best up-and-coming directors of today.

To sum it all up, The Menu is hands down one of the best thrillers and comedies I have seen since the reopening of theaters after the pandemic. The Menu goes down as one of my top ten films of 2022 and earns a rating of four and a half out of five s’mores. By the way, if you don’t understand the s’mores reference, you will soon enough.