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Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Menu 2022 * * 1/2 Stars


2022's The Menu is my latest write-up. It is well-edited, shrewd, and visually aesthetic, actually using food on rocks as a Michelin Star metaphor. "Menu" also features title cards of various course meals that list the items in a demented sort of way. I mean are we the viewers supposed to laugh or scoff? I'm going to go with scoff and Gordon Ramsay would probably do the same. 

Speaking of Ramsay, well The Menu is like a film version of his Hell's Kitchen except that the head chef is more quietly evil and the patrons involved, well they mostly die. Manipulative and spiteful, "Menu" is indeed a black comedy, the blackest of comedies (with some horror elements thrown in). Its victim characters are like Stockholm syndrome minions getting their exotic eat on as you the audience member keep guessing and guessing as to what's going to happen next. That's when The Menu is at its most effective.   

But then The Menu has to conclude and you realize that it's more stylish grizzle that's meant to upset and not compel. I mean yeah The Menu is directed with panache and the look of it is about as sterile as the Virgin Mary's latrine. But where's the moral center here? And minus "Menu's" final twist, why does everybody have to have their fates be so forlorn? Talk about a downer of a thriller that just leaves a sour taste in your mouth (pun intended). 

As a flick about a celebrity chef (Julian Slowik) who invites a bunch of rich wrongdoers to an island to feast on some first class cruisine (only to find that they're included in the meal), "Menu" has solid performances from a well-to-do cast (Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult). Fiennes is the standout and although we think of him as a fine actor, his Slowik here is so remorseless and uncouth it's hard to accept his actions as anything more than show. He's vile for the sake of being vile as is The Menu overall. This is "food" without much "soul".  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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