So far, the Toronto International Film Festival has been full of surprises and crowd pleasers. It’s usually what you’d expect with the event being a hub for the best and brightest pictures that will be released to the public in the months to come. Keeping all of that in mind, director Mark Mylod and writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have served what could be one of the most surprising entries at this year’s festival in THE MENU.
In the trailer released for the film by Searchlight Pictures, there’s a mysterious atmosphere that permeates the footage released. As a group of eager diners sit down for a several course meal served by the enigmatic Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), THE MENU proceeds to unfold a beautifully twisted satire that skewers those who would feast.
What’s even more of a mystery is what Anya Taylor-Joy’s character Margot is doing at this island eatery. All we know about her is that her presence perplexes Chef Slowik, and may derail the experience at the heart of THE MENU. How, why, and whether that’s a good thing or not are the sorts of questions viewers are already primed to be asking.
Satire As Dark As It Is Funny
Seth Reiss and Will Tracy’s script for THE MENU walks the line between dark humor and sinister humor throughout its entire array of dishes. Through the various personalities that show up to this restaurant to dine, we get to see all sorts of characters that we seem poised to dislike from the start. Digging into that discomfort is part of what makes this movie so much fun to enjoy.
Tech bros, actors, critics, and foodies are some of the targets for THE MENU’s sharp and cutting wit. Bringing those archetypes together under one roof might feel like a setup for disaster on its own, as these sorts of people might turn against each other easily. Without spoiling the fun, let’s just say that the most dangerous threat to this assortment of characters might be their own pasts.
Reiss and Tracy’s sense of humor allows the audience to laugh at THE MENU’s participants, while also wondering if they truly deserve what’s coming to them. Each course brings some new obstacles, with each revelation delivering a new complication that riles up the entire dining room in one way or another. All the while, the laughs never stop, but they do start to bleed into the shocking moments that occur between punchlines.
Anya Taylor-Joy Versus Ralph Fiennes
Big movie matchups deserve to be seen on the big screen. Be it GODZILLA VS. KONG or BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, everyone loves a good battle of wills. THE MENU has this sort of card to play in its deck of tricks, and it’s thanks to Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes butting heads throughout this dinner to remember.
Again, Taylor-Joy’s Margot is somewhat of a mystery to Fiennes’ Chef Slowik, and that’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with the meticulous gourmand. Planning the evening’s festivities down to the last detail – perfectly bespoke for every person attending but her – the Chef’s obsession with perfection is put to the test.
Watching Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes square off in THE MENU is one of many highlights to the overall experience. A recurring theme throughout all of the funny and freaked out events that unfold, these two powerhouses do a dance with each other’s psyches. It’s a sight to behold, and that’s even considering some of the other outrageous happenings that take place.
A Mysterious Must-See
If THE MENU’s premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival is any indication, this movie is absolutely a crowd-friendly experience. At turns hysterical and threatening, Chef Slowik’s methodical meal embraces unpredictability straight through to the end. It is a film that should be shared with an audience, as quickly as possible, so as to remain spoiler-free.
That’s not just hyperbole talking, as there’s probably going to already be some talk about THE MENU’s storytelling. While there might not be many people going into the dark details of what exactly happens, this is a ride so wild that people are going to want to talk about it as soon as possible. Make sure that if you’ve got any inkling to see this film, you either plan to see it with a group, or prepare to keep the secrets.
Some movies are so mysterious that they become events that build a strong head of steam through word of mouth. THE MENU is primed to be that sort of movie, as everything revealed to the public so far has been really good about saving a lot of surprises for the theatre.
As if that wasn’t enough, the food shown off in THE MENU looks absolutely stunning. So be sure to head to your nearest AMC Theatres location with a full stomach, or plan to eat shortly after you’ve completed this cinematic journey. THE MENU will be served in theatres, starting November 18th.