Menu Review – Is Anya Taylor-Joy’s New Movie Any Good?


If we have any advice before you dive into The menuit’s that you really have to eat first.

As the classes get more and more ridiculous (like a breadless bread class), you’ll always be hungry watching chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team create class after class of culinary art. And if haute cuisine isn’t for you, a plot-important cheeseburger absolutely will.

But The menu is not a celebration of food culture – it is a skewer. The setting is Hawthorn, an exclusive restaurant on a coastal island where only 12 diners can experience the tasting menu at a time. Curated especially by Slowik, tonight’s particular tasting menu should be to die for.

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The audience substitute is Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) who has been brought in as a date by the foodie Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that Margot is the odd one out at this session.

His other guests are in varying degrees awful: a trio of technicians (Rob Young, Arturo Castro and Mark St Cyr); an older couple (Judith Light and Reed Birney) who have been to Hawthorn several times; a failed movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero); and a critic (Janet McTeer) and her spineless editor (Paul Adelstein).

Slowik is put off by Margot’s presence and initially it seems to be due to her indifference to her carefully prepared food. But it becomes clear that Slowik had an ulterior motive for rounding up this particular batch of hateful diners, and Margot just doesn’t fit into his plan.

The careful disclosure of what this plan entails is the main part of The menuis a sneaky joy. It’s rare that you don’t know where a movie is going, but once The menu delivers its shock-first twist, it keeps you quirky throughout. Hawthorn’s tasting menu gets grimmer as it goes, and yet you can’t look away.

ralph fiennes, anya taylorjoy, the menu

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You could argue that The menu really has nothing new to say about the themes it explores, namely the class divide. There’s a lot of obvious surface-level digging without much substance, but that doesn’t take away from how often Seth Reiss and Will Tracy’s storyline is funny.

A little like Succession (who The menu director Mark Mylod worked), there’s a joy in seeing gruesome characters show up for their actions. The menu savor their downfall, right down to the outrageous dessert, and witnessing their worst night is a complete meal in itself.

Mylod has assembled an excellent cast for their dinner from hell, led by the ever-brilliant Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult. Hoult builds a fine line of obnoxious and hilarious characters, but even he is outmatched by Taylor-Joy here as the cynical and sharp Margot plays the boss at her own game.

There are also some memorable turns wherever you look in the supporting cast, particularly Elsa, Hong Chau’s intimidating team leader, who is able to put down the worst of their guests with a whisper in their ear. Special mention also goes to Janet McTeer’s scathing food critic, who gives critics a bad name (but maybe we’re defending ourselves here).

anya taylorjoy, nicholas hoult the menu

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It’s a vintage set that, had it had meatier subjects to deal with, might have delivered an all-timer. As it is, however, The menu is a dark, funny, often shocking and unique dark comedy that keeps you on your toes constantly.

You may never want to visit Hawthorn in real life, but you’ll enjoy savoring the cinematic meal on offer.

The menu hits theaters November 18.

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