November 17, 2022

CINEMA | Ralph Fiennes Eats the Rich – 'The Menu' x TIFF 2022

"We're eating the ocean!"
Ralph Fiennes Anya Taylor-Joy Nicholas Hoult Mark Mylod | The Menu | TIFF 2022
Toronto International Film Festival
The Menu, helmed by veteran television director Mark Mylod, is a delightfully deranged satirical feast skewering everything from the arrogant ultra-rich to the snobbery of fine dining culture. Starring as a simultaneously controlled yet unhinged celebrity chef on a secluded private island, Ralph Fiennes relishes being both absolutely terrifying and maniacally hilarious in this bloody culinary horror-comedy deconstructing the consumption of art by an elitist upper class.

Co-starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult as two of a dozen wealthy exclusive diners carted off to an isolated coastal restaurant in a perfect premise for a possible slasher thriller, audiences are dropped into things just as dinner is getting started with a group of strangers who may share certain detestable traits. Taylor-Joy ably plays the typical scream queen voice of reason protagonist just as a very committed Hoult acts out obsessively as a misguided foodie mocking a very specific kind of snobbish, chef-worshipping patron.

Produced by Adam McKay and written by Late Night writer Seth Reiss and Succession producer Will Tracy, the details about the high-end culinary food world are spot on. Events unfold in The Menu like a tightly-wound stage play where each scene is served like a dish in a multi-course tasting menu. Fiennes' central role makes everything sync as a tightrope work of balancing tone veering from biting satire to shocking violence with key precision.

Ralph Fiennes Mark Mylod | The Menu | TIFF 2022
Searchlight Pictures / Hyperobject Industries
It's delightful to watch The Menu not knowing exactly what's going on or happening despite a clearly chilly atmosphere where Fiennes' chef character rules over his loyal kitchen staff like a devout cult leader with shades of Hannibal Lecter's eerie charisma. The script makes sure to include every specific kind of rich person archetype as they make both comedic and dramatic hay of the different interactions within an exclusively privileged class of pretentious customers.

Mylod's sharp visual direction and twisted humour about fresh ingredients, cooking techniques, artistic plating, and the trope of storytelling through cuisine are frequently uproariously funny in their sophisticated satirical wit. The Menu is a delectable cinematic meal unafraid of mocking exactly those who will probably enjoy it most.

The Menu premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations program.


More | Indiewire / Polygon / Uproxx

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