The Menu (Digital)

A young couple travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

January 4, 2023 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

About fifteen years ago I was in a Las Vegas steak house. I was doing rather well gambling-wise and with my present company decided to partake. I ordered the New York Strip – well done. I like my meat cooked. After the waitress rolled her eyes a bit, the chef came out and asked me if I would reconsider my order as he “…didn’t prefer to cook meat that would take away from the taste.” I informed him that it was me who was consuming the meat and me that was paying for it and that if he had a problem with that, I’d take my business elsewhere. In retrospect it’s probably not the wisest thing to be a smart ass to the person preparing your food, but I survived. You’d think that something like the temperature of meat wouldn’t be an issue. It is. I have no idea why. And I bring this up because it taught me how seriously people really do take food. Granted, we all need it to live, but the “best of the best” the chefs, they really do eat, live and breathe food. This takes us to The Menu, the story of a chef who might just take his job a bit too seriously.

Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) runs “the best of the best” restaurant in the world. It’s located on a remote island and entry costs more than $1,000 per person. We meet a dozen of the guests led by Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) among others. But within minutes it becomes clear to us that they don’t know one another too well. He’s obsessed with Chef Slowik and she’s a skeptic. Also in the mix is a food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), an actor (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero) and an older couple (Judith Light and Reed Birney) who’s eyeing up Margot. As the night progresses, the courses get a bit more exquisite and the chef and his crew more eccentric. Eyebrows are raised, to be sure, but is this all part of the “experience” or is something more sinister at play?

Yes, the plot is a bit vague, but to give away the film’s main storyline would be to ruin the experience for the viewer. Assuming the introductory paragraph was read, you’ll be able to piece together that I’m not a fan of fancy food. As one character in the film says “I just want a cheeseburger.” And that’s the way I feel. I’ve eaten at a 4 star Michelin restaurant. I kept asking myself “Is this it?” Yep, it was. The Menu is intriguing, though it’s not totally original. Certainly shades of any Saw movie or even Se7en come to mind, and if that gives away anything – my apologies. One thing I felt was lacking, however, was that we didn’t really get to know the ensemble cast. It’s essentially Hoult, Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy. It’s a great premise, though I felt it could and should have been expanded upon. Bon appetit.

Video: How’s it look?

The film has a very dark and somber tone to it in both the literal and figurative sense. Certainly the 2.39:1 HD image leaves very little to the imagination. The majority of the movie takes place in the main dining room that’s amply lit, but shadows and contrast seem a bit off from time to time. Detail is on the mark, as expected. I mean no disrespect to Anya Taylor-Joy, but I often find myself looking at her unusually wide-spaced eyes. I know she can’t help it, and she is strikingly beautiful but still…It’s a great-looking image, for sure, but there’s a big section of the color spectrum ignored.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Watching this online gives us a Dolby Atmos mix that may or may not be present on the actual disc. Nevertheless, it’s somewhat wasted as the majority of the film is dialogue-driven, mainly by Fiennes. Vocals are sharp, crisp and sound ample. I caught a few times the surrounds chimed in, but this is a pretty straight-forward mix that doesn’t really take advantage of the atmospheric aural nature of Dolby Atmos. It’s passable, to be sure, but nothing that resonated with me.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • First Course – We take a “seat at the table” where director Mark Mylod delves into some of the “key ingredients” that went into crafting the film. We meet some renowned chefs and the food stylist (yes, really) who brought her culinary skills to the set.
  • Second Course – We delve further in to the Hawthorn kitchen and witness some of the meticulous details of the production design. We also get to hear from the cast and writers about the director’s approach to capturing the nuances of the performances.
  • Dessert – Dig (get it?) into the creation of the s’mores sequence as costume designer Amy Westcott explains the process of sewing ponchos made of actual marshmallows (assuming you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what this means). The cast discusses chocolate hats and the predicament of their respective characters.
  • Deleted Scenes – I tend to think the film stood well on its own, nevertheless there are a trio of deleted scenes included that don’t really add or offer anything to the final cut.
    • Scene 4
    • Scene 7
    • Scene 57

The Bottom Line

I dunno. The Menu managed to entertain, but left me still craving more substance (I’m sure you get the analogy). The performances were adequate, but I just felt that things ended way too quickly. That, and as I’m sure you have guessed by now – I’m no fan of chefs. To be fair, it is original and it’s nice to see some characters step out of their comfort zone(s), but I was looking for the waiter to get my check.

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