December 7, 2022

Entertaining Movies

Entertaining Movies

The Menu 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

The Menu

The Menu 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of strangers is brought together under a single roof where seemingly benign circumstances mask something more sinister. To complicate things further, many of them are actually connected to each other and harboring secrets that will be revealed over the course of the evening. This is the bread-and-butter that is being played with in director Mark Mylod’s The Menu, a frustrating film that centers on the experience of going to eat at the illustrious and isolated restaurant known as the Hawthorne. We see how people are willing to take a boat trip and fork over a chunk of change just to eat from Ralph Fiennes’ clap-happy Chef Slowik. Alas, even with promising ingredients that have been assembled, this tepid thriller is one that grows increasingly tiresome with each course.

It all begins with a couple waiting for the boat that will whisk them away. Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) is smoking when she is interrupted by the immediately obnoxious Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) who informs her that she will be ruining her palate in doing so. In just this opening interaction, we know almost everything there is to know about their relationship and where it will go. This is itself an issue as, even with Taylor-Joy and Hoult giving game performances, there isn’t much we get to digest. Tyler is vapid and controlling while Margot is his bemused companion to this expensive dinner. Where he seems fascinated, even obsessed by this expedition, she seems rather bored by it all. However, he is footing the bill so she mostly plays along. When they arrive at the boat, we get introduced to the rest of the ensemble cast who are similarly superficially constructed. There is a washed-up movie star, a group of finance bros, an older couple, and a food critic. None of them really speak to each other as they all have their eyes focused on the destination that has brought them all together.

When they arrive at the island, they are greeted by the deadly series Elsa. Played by an always wonderful Hong Chau, she gives them an odd tour through what is essentially a compound that comes complete with barracks for all the staff to sleep in. Only Margot seems suspicious of this as the rest of the diners are painfully oblivious to most everything around them. It soon becomes clear that she is working class whereas all the other characters have, in one way or another, found obscene wealth that allows them to be here. This marks the beginning of the film’s rather half-hearted way of trying to make some sort of sociopolitical statement. Unfortunately, it is almost entirely toothless and lacks any real bite even as it gets increasingly brutal. There is no real sense of purpose to what is playing out as it just feels like it meanders through macabre yet mundane escalations. While this could very much be the point, the film clearly hungers to be taken more seriously without ever putting in the work to earn this. When we are properly introduced to Slowik, his distaste for the guests is immediately apparent to us as an audience while flying over everyone else’s heads but Margot. Taylor-Joy certainly makes the most of what little she has to work with here, only to get undercut at nearly every turn.

This begins rather early when the characters all gather in a dining room with what is meant to be a stunning view overlooking the water they traveled in on. Except, rather than being a believable backdrop, it looks almost entirely like a digital creation. In the event that it isn’t, something very seriously went wrong during shooting to make it look like this. There are multiple moments where characters foreground others and make it even more baffling to look at. During the early scenes, it does a disservice to the seemingly important crosstalk between characters. As day shifts into night, it thankfully becomes less garish. The issue then becomes that the story is just not up to snuff. In addition to not being consistently funny or clever, there isn’t anything ever sharp enough to call satire even though it seems to consider itself to be something close. The hit-or-miss comedy feels so broad that it never really says much of anything at all. It isn’t nearly as witty or insightful as it seems to think it is.

While co-writer Will Tracy has written a couple of episodes of the hit series Succession, which very much creates an honest and humorous portrait of power, there is only a shadow of that sensibility here. One may be tempted to say this is a product of the inferior acting, but it also is unshakeable that most of the characters exist as one-joke sketches. They each get some sort of trait that will define them throughout the entire experience, making any chance at comedic exploration feel doomed from the very start. There are a smattering of moments where it seems to want to have a go at the pretentiousness of movie stars or critics with how their wealth has corrupted them, only to get caught up in its more conventional thriller elements.

Even evaluating it on those terms, there is nothing all that impactful to really latch onto. For every moment of tension, it seems just on the edge of tipping us into, there is one that feels more constrained and haphazard. In one of the many scenes where the story grinds to a halt, Slowik has a conversation with Margot alone where he attempts to spell some things out. He even desperately tries to tell her that nothing happening here is arbitrary, a line that feels like it could just have easily been the film trying to convince itself of its significance. While Fiennes is able to bring an appropriate sense of menace with just a single stare, it feels like a repeat of his film The Forgiven from earlier this year. Both that and now this one try to coast off his performance while gesturing at a more grand vision. What makes this most recent work more perplexing is just how much it aimlessly wanders without any driving force or direction.

Running at an hour and forty-six minutes, it ends up feeling far longer than that in just how repetitive it is. While much of this may be due to the confined setting and lack of variety in the visuals, even when there is a sequence set outside it lacks any sort of spark. There is the constant of the meals that keep getting brought out that all vaguely mean something, though we understand the game and where it is all going pretty quickly. It leaves itself very few ways to go that could truly salvage what came before it. This all makes it a surprise that the ending offers up at least a small morsel to chew on. Of course, this is still damning with false praise as it comes far too late to make this meal a memorable one. For all the promise of its main cast and sturdy thriller premise, The Menu is a work that seems destined to slip from your mind.

The Menu 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online