The Menu

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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Gourmands unite! Murder has invaded the kitchen.

Or at least that’s the premise in “The Menu,” the new movie starring Ralph Fiennes as a deadly chef.

12 victims are invited to dine at his restaurant, an elegant eatery called Hawthorne, located on a remote island in the Pacific. The meal comes with a $1,250-per-person price tag (not including tip).

A Last Supper, you might call it. But the guests don’t know that.

This movie for foodies is simply is a gastronomic reworking of “The Most Dangerous Game,” that 1932 film starring Joel McCrae and Fay Wray as shipwrecked victims who becomes the prey of murderous Count Zaroff.

Among the dinner guests are financial types looking for the status of being invited to dine at Hawthorne; a food critic and her magazine editor; along with other fine-dining stereotypes.

But we focus on two of the guests, Margot and Tyler (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult). Margot is our protagonist, the film’s Final Girl; Tyler is her pretentious foodie date.

The chef: Who are you?
Margot: I. Am. Margot. Why do you care?
The chef: Because. I need to know if you’re with us or with them.

Celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Fiennes) has prepared a special molecular gastronomy menu where food is treated as conceptual art. Molecular gastronomy is an approach to nutrition through chemistry. It approaches the preparation of food from the perspective of atoms, molecule, and mixtures.

However, a tweak of the atoms can make the meal deadly.

“He’s a storyteller,” says Tyler. “The game is trying to guess what the overarching theme is going to be. You won’t know until the end.”

That is to say, we can expect twists in the plot.

As one moviegoer reported, “… no matter what comparisons and assumptions are made, ‘The Menu’ will not be the movie you expect.”

After all, the movie’s tagline warns “Wonderful surprises await you all.”

At the hands of director Mark Mylod (“Succession”), and writers Will Tracy (“Succession”) and Seth Reiss (“Late Night with Seth Meyers”), “The Menu” is a black comedy horror story. Sure, the restaurant staff hunt down diners. But the script itself takes aim at arrogance and entitlement.

As Deadline Hollywood puts it, “’The Menu’ provides unnerving satirical commentary on the class divide and how the wealthy are a bottomless pit of need that will never be satisfied.”

Another cinéaste observes that this is “the most entertaining ensemble film since ‘Knives Out,’ and the most engaging horror-satire since ‘Get Out.’ ”

Another describes it as “a wicked mix of culinary porn, horror elements and pitch-black comedy …”

Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn acted as a consultant on the film.

I think you will find it both tasty and fulfilling.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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