The Menu Takes “Eat the Rich” to a Whole New Level


Chef Slowik from The Menu. Screengrab from The Menu trailer.

There’s something so frustrating about the existence of a fancy restaurant as a middle-class person, serving minuscule portions as “courses” and expecting you to follow a particular dress code. Mark Mylod’s The Menu satirizes this concept with a thrilling approach, with layers of commentary on class and fame bubbling above the surface.

Anya Taylor-Joy takes on the role of Margot, a young woman accompanying her presumed partner, Tyler, to a fancy restaurant with a world-renowned chef. We immediately know that she is not like the other people invited to the dinner party. Margot has a sense of humor about herself that is unlike the rest of the guests, even the one she is accompanying, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult). Tyler seems to find her banter amusing, despite his own dry disposition and focus on the experience happening around him. 

The Menu’s varied cast of interesting characters are all united by one thing: their ego. Each of them has paid a significant amount of money to be there, and they all feel as though they are the most important person in the room. They’ve all been hand selected by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), a complicated individual who strives for his idea of perfection in his food. And the cinematography throughout the film truly makes it look perfect.

One example of a course from The Menu. Screengrab from The Menu trailer.

One of the most interesting visual aspects of Mylod’s direction is his use of close-ups, showing the chef’s creations as if they were on display at a museum. Although the film itself isn’t particularly scary, a quick close-up gas stove sizzling or a firm clap were enough to make the viewer jump. The film gives the viewer an unsettling feeling from the beginning, taking a dark turn around the introduction of the third course.

Every actor in The Menu is perfectly cast within their role. Anya Taylor-Joy provides a fearless audience surrogate amongst the group of fearful guests, mirroring the viewer’s judgements of  the others in the room. Ralph Fiennes portrays Chef Slowik with intimidation and sensitivity, allowing moments of light to crack through his dark demeanor. Elsa, played by Hong Chau, proves almost more intimidating, for the chef’s loyal employee keeps the guests in line during and between courses. 

The Menu has an underlying theme of self-awareness. Each character’s level of self awareness provides the reasoning for their fate at the end of the film. Throughout the film’s runtime, we are able to see the person they truly are, even while they are trying to manipulate others.

The Menu will leave you on the edge of your seat, laughing at the tensest of jokes, and likely feeling very hungry by the end of it.