Fiennes directs black comedy horror

The Menu, a dark and twisted satire directed by Mark Mylod and written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, will satisfy your palate. The menu is a dish best eaten with a side of excitement and expectation because it’s full of daring twists that the public won’t see coming. The dark horror-comedy, which features a strong but unsettling performance from Ralph Fiennes, attempts to examine class, the service industry and how the wealthy damage almost everything.

The first scene of The Menu shows Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) taking a boat to an island where chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and Elsa (Hong Chau)’s five-star Hawthorne restaurant is located. They’re here for the night of their lives with a posh movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero), wealthy finance friends (Arturo Castro, Rob Yang, Mark St. Cyr), devoted patrons of Hawthorne (Judith Light, Reed Birney), food critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein). An evening of grand meals and conceptual culinary art quickly turns into a bizarre and unsettling experience.

As a tough, relentless and comedic Slowik leader, Fiennes is absolutely terrifying. The actor plays Slowik with restraint, only allowing his character to twitch while chatting with Margot, played by Taylor-Joy, who he knows doesn’t belong to Hawthorne like the others. Fiennes is stiff throughout the film, but he becomes more relaxed as Slowik begins to enjoy creating a particular dish later on. Taylor-Joy is equally impressive. She gives Margot a sense of heightened awareness, and due to her character’s past, she is able to help Margot understand Slowik’s point of view and how absurd the experience is.

The supporting ensemble as a whole does a great job of complementing each other, but Hong Chau as Elsa stands out. She commands attention, and thanks to Chau’s superb acting, the audience immediately discerns Elsa’s driving forces. The menu begs to be consumed with an overall terrific script, a stellar cast and a major directing effort from Mylod. While viewers may not feel particularly hungry after watching the film, their experience will be something they won’t soon forget, just as Slowik promised his own visitors.

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