“The Menu” (2022)
It so happened that I watched this film right after “Triangle of Sadness,” the Cannes Film Festival winner, and was amazed by numerous coincidences – from the film’s core idea to the similarity of the setting and the characters involved. The stories in both films unfold in an oceanic setting (the first on a luxurious yacht, the second in a lavish restaurant on an island), with almost all characters being wealthy, famous, fashionable, beautiful, and self-assured. But behind the glittering facade, there is always a dark underbelly that seeps out in the confines of a closed space, where they cannot control and influence the situation by their usual means.
The idea for the film “The Menu” came to screenwriter Will Tracy while visiting a fine-dining restaurant on a private island. He arrived there by boat and quickly realized that he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the island until he placed an order at the restaurant and ate it. This “original” marketing ploy seemed to border on psychological manipulation, and the screenwriter masterfully transforms the feelings of visiting an exquisite establishment into a beautiful and terrifying movie.
The protagonist, a maestro who conducts a team of highly skilled professionals, an artist who creates true culinary works of art, assembles a company of wealthy individuals for a private dinner. Tyler doesn’t consider himself one of them, but he’s so enamored with the chef and his concept that he’s willing to fork out fifty thousand euros for a ticket to the gala dinner. In reality, the price will turn out to be much higher.
The only person who doesn’t fit into the nouveau riche company is Margot, Tyler’s accidental companion. She has no reverence for the powerful of this world, is unimpressed by gourmet haute cuisine, and is irritated by the idiosyncrasies of the rich. She would gladly devour a juicy burger with fries, and the chef can accommodate that. However, before fast food comes into play, the maître d’ will offer guests a highly original menu with dish changes that no one can refuse.
Ralph Fiennes is superb in his role. The film has two Golden Globe nominations.