Whet appetites and knives alike in “The Menu”
Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Being served up this week at Tryon Theatre is “The Menu,” a perfectly plated and deliciously dangerous satire. “The Menu” is directed by Mark Mylod, one of the greatest directors of Australia’s current film scene, and a relatively young director at that. Mylod’s films have often wrestled with the darker aspects of humanity both in terms of psychology and violence, and “The Menu” is no exception to Mylod’s established trend. The film, while being satirical and comedic, is morbidly so, skewering sensibilities and flesh alike.
The sensibilities so pointedly impaled in “The Menu” are those of the elite: the beautiful, detached, and eccentric members of high society. These out-of-touch and indulgent members of the leisure class have unwittingly found themselves the focal point of a great artist’s ire, an artist whose commitment to his hatred is laudable if not laughably insane. This artist is Chef Slowik, played by the ever-magnetic and captivating Ralph Fiennes, an actor perfectly cast to rule a kitchen with an iron fist.
Slowik, and his feverishly loyal kitchen staff, are the best the culinary world has to offer and have long operated in the echelons of high society. They have witnessed their hard work and selfless art being commodified and digitally disseminated for social clout, rather than actually enjoyed and consumed. They have seen the exclusivity of a meal in terms of price and setting outweigh any merit of the meal’s composition itself. In his dissolution, Slowik has decided to make an emphatic and intricate statement, one in which every obnoxious guest has a role to play.
These guests in question have all purchased the opportunity for an exclusive evening of fine dining. They all hail from various wells of painful self-indulgence and self-importance, and are all expecting a night of culinary virtuosity at the hands of Chef Slowik. Slowik has promised an evening of deeply personal meals, with each course distinctly catered to the personality and sensibilities of each guest. In pursuit of this unique experience, the guests have agreed to travel to Slowik’s personal island/restaurant. However, as the guests arrive and the evening progresses, it becomes clear that these curated meals, while deeply personal, are intended much more as a curated punishment than a curated celebration. As this “punishment” begins to take shape, the film begins to hilariously, and darkly, spiral into madness.
We hope your own artistic appetites will lead you to join us for “The Menu,” and enjoy digesting this deeply entertaining, and admittedly disturbing, satire.