Coming to theatres this Friday from director Mark Mylod and Searchlight Pictures is the tasty and delectable food on THE MENU.
On a beautiful island, a very special dining experience with Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) awaits invited guests. Arriving on the dock are food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer) and Ted (Paul Adelstein), a movie star (John Leguizamo) who loves to drop names and his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero), Richard (Reed Birney) and wife Anne (Judith Light), and business buddies Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro) and Dave (Mark St. Cry).
Finally, foodie groupie Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) follow the group led by Elsa (Hong Chau). Explaining the surroundings of how the menu is created for the Hawthorne, it is clear that the staff is devoted to Chef Slowick. Led into the dining room, the group is served wine as they wait for the chef to appear.
When he does, he explains that the courses are special and have meaning. From molecular gastronomy to art on a plate, Chef Slowick wants his guests to taste everything. That is when Elsa whispers to the chef that Margot is a guest not on the original list. That upsets the him as he explains each part of the experience was perfectly planned and, Margot is not eating the food in front of her.
Tyler is jealous that the chef wants to speak to her and not him but is not going to let that stop him from enjoying the plates put before him. As the evening progresses and the wine flows, the truth of their dining experience becomes clearer than a wine glass!
Fiennes as Slowik gives a performance that is deliberate, controlled and knowledgeable. Even when you think he is going to lose control, he diverts to a story that should tell the guests everything. Fiennes is just a plate of perfection in this role and is the straight man to the last frame of the film. I just adore this performance from him.
Taylor-Joy as Margot is just a strong mysterious character who is not afraid of saying what she thinks or standing her ground. Even as she comes face to face with the chef, Margot does not back down as her part in all this expands more and more. Taylor-Joy meets his control word for word and even her panic is controlled and it is powerful.
Hoult as Tyler is just that guy who is so drawn into being a foodie groupie that he blocks out everything else that is happening. Upset with Margot that she does not share in his obsession, he looks forward to each plate with tunnel vision. Hoult gives it his all and although irritating at moments, his character has a purpose.
Bloom and Adelstein are so precocious that its hilarious and proves that having an opinion can be, well, dangerous. Leguizamo and Carrero have their own boss/employee issues with each other as the name dropper has his own confessions to make. Birney and Light are a couple that has spent a lot of time at Hawthorne dining and its time to pay the check.
Yang, Castro and Cyr are three men who have their own secrets that will take flight right before their eyes.
A big mad respect shout-out to Chau as Elsa because I loved ever minute she was on screen. This character is not afraid of anything or anyone and has no problem saying ‘no’. The scene when the three business men try to bread-bully Elsa, she says with a straight face ‘no’, I broke out laughing. Chau is stunning!
Other cast include Christina Brucato as Katherine, Peter Grosz as the Sommelier, Adam Aalderks as Jeremy, Jon Paul Allyn as the Boat Waiter and Rebecca Koon as Linda.
Searchlight Pictures is responsible for such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. They have an extensive film library as well as documentaries, scripted series, and limited series. For more information, please visit www.searchlightpictures.com.
THE MENU is nothing short of a plate full of perfection, it is deliciously phuged-up and I could not get enough of it. Keeping the cast in one room 99% of the time is brilliantly done and as Fiennes character controls every aspect, it is thrilling to watch how each character begins to crack around the edges and Taylor-Joy matching wits with the chef.
Those in the kitchen also have a part to play and are the raw characters. They are dedicated to the chef and they seem detached from everything that is happening. Focused on making delicious and intricate food, you hardly ever see them looking into the dining room. It was actually kind of freaky and disturbing but I loved it as well.
The plates of food served are stunningly beautiful but, like Margot, is probably not something I would eat. That makes her character relatable on so many non-conformist levels. The last plate served was exactly my cup of flower-tea sizzling with no pretentiousness or fan-fare.
Vague enough? Of course this is, why would I give away the best parts of the film when THE MENU is waiting to serve you as well. I am just going to let my palate savor every drop of what Chef Slowik served up and keep his secret recipes for everyone else to discover.
In the end – wonderful surprises wait you all!