“The Menu”: a gastronomic, horrifying and satirical evening

On a pier, a dozen well-dressed passengers wait to board the boat that will take them to ecstasy – priced at $1,250 per guest. The boat is destined for Hawthorne, an island restaurant, crowned “the best in the world”, off a major city on the east coast of the United States.

The desolate landscape of the island is not without evoking the world of Bergman, and it will not be the only time that the memory of the great masters will cross the mind throughout the gastronomic and horrifying evening offered by Le Menu.

Directed by Mark Mylod, a British filmmaker who is returning to feature films after a detour through the series (he recently directed some notable episodes of Succession), this Menu aims to satisfy very different, perhaps irreconcilable appetites: for those who love the luxury, the cast is impeccable – Ralph Fiennes as a brilliant and disturbing cook; Last-minute guest Anya Taylor-Joy as spoilsport; Nicholas Hoult as a vaguely monstrous foodie; Hong Chau as a hostess devoted body and soul to her chef. Surprise lovers will be served at regular intervals, according to the perverse fantasies of chef Julian Slowik.

As for those who enter a dark room to also feed their spirit, they will be offered a playful speculation around the infernal dialectic that governs the art trade – here haute cuisine.

As rigorous as Mark Mylod’s staging is – who says he was inspired, among other sources, by Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (1962) – it does not quite succeed in emulsifying these different ingredients.

The mechanics of the script (which you can’t dismantle without fanning the twists and turns that take the film from social satire to horror) aren’t as convincing as the geometric framing that makes the most of the unique decor carrying Scandinavian chic to unsuspected extremes.

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