Where I Watched It: HBo MAX
English Audio Description?: Yes
It’s actually been fun watching the progression of the film from festival, to release, to critics groups, the Globes, and now a long shot at the Oscars. The Menu is one of those films we can’t really talk about. Like, I really need to spend the next five paragraphs talking about the dwindling gorilla population or something. Because, The Menu is not a face value film, and that’s what makes talking about it so damn hard.
Basically, a group of people are given the opportunity to eat at this super exclusive restaurant run by a Chef (Ralph Fiennes) who has a very artistic interpretation ready for their meal. Ironically, there is no menu in the menu, a fact that most critics haven’t mentioned. The title refers likely to the progression of what each course is, and what it means, rather than the traditional sense of the menu.
Among those invited to the island are a movie star (John Leguizamo), and a super fan of the chef (Nicholas Hoult) and his date for the evening (Anya Taylor Joy). Among the rest of the cast, you’ll find heavy hitters like Hong Chou and Janet McTeer, so the cast here is incredible. it’s also nice to see more work from Reid Birney after his incredible work in last year’s Mass.
Now, moving forward, we are basically assigned Anya Taylor joy as our vessel. She’s the deflacto lead, as this foodie world is not her thing. So her date is constantly explaining to her why all of these over the top artistic choices are so utterly brilliant. There’s a back and forth commentary going on here about art in general. What is it, what does it mean to strive for great art, what does it mean to critique art, what does it mean to consume art, and what happens when art becomes more than the artist.
If you know someone who has already seen The menu and is playing coy, or if you’ve just seen too many previews, you’ll notice that this movie straddles multiple genres. The funny thing is, knowing that somewhat ruins the experience, because you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s really clear when that shoe drops. Before that moment, this is just any regular movie, but once it happens, it is clear you have really taken a different path.
No. Despite what you might think about a “radical chef” and his “menu”, this is not a cannibal film. That is bone and All, not this. So, rest easy.
The highlight of the film is the dynamic between Ralph Fiennes and Any Taylor Joy, both who give awards worthy performances, and have this crackle in their back and forth that really lights up the film. Fiennes in particular hasn’t been this delicious in a while.
The audio description here helps to understand the food on the plate, as well as the general atmosphere and setting. It’s these little things that as the AD moves along, and the film changes gears, it is presented with new challenges. I thought it handled those challenges well.
This is going to be vying for a Top 10 spot on my list. I know Academy voters won’t go for it, but I’m now low key obsessed. It’s one of the few films i saw that year that I immediately.
Final Grade: A