REview: The Menu (2022) | You Aren’t What You Eat…Are You?

Mark Mylod’s The Menu by my reckoning is at its core a story about a cult leader/madman who lures a bunch of people to his stronghold and kills not only them, but himself.

That the cult leader happens to be a chef, Chef Slowik (Ralph Finnes) and revolves around 12 people being invited to his remote restaurant makes everything really interesting.

Finnes as an actor has a very deadpan quality that makes certain things that he says particularly hilarious, despite doing so with a straight face and no joke in sight.

What doesn’t work quite so well is the reasoning for Slowick choosing his victims. It seemed fairly arbitrary, as in the case of a performance John Leguizamo on a television show that made him feel that Leguizamo (who’s credited as ‘Movie Star’) somehow compromised himself so grievously that it warranted him being killed.

The problem was that part of Slowik’s arc was that he had come to hate his work because of all the nonsense that accompanied it – all the pretentiousness and compromise required to become the great chef that the movie depicts him as – but the problem was that he himself choose to live in that fashion, no matter how unsatisfying, no matter how demeaning it ended up being.

The movie tells us that Slowik was happiest when he was a simple fast-food chef, so why not go back to that life?

It’s not the blaming of people for him being where he ended up that’s the problem necessarily – there were some people who indeed made his life and that of others miserable, like restaurant critic, Lillian (Janet McTeer) – but at every turn Chef Slowik made decisions that led him to his end.

That’s why I think underneath all the style, production value and A-list cast, at the end of the day The Menu is simply a story about a self-righteous cult leader.

It’s worth seeing because for the most part it’s pretty fun, but I wish it were purer in terms of its presentation.


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