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The Menu (15, 107 minutes)
I have a few provisos when it comes to food – does it taste nice, is there enough, no broccoli or cauliflower, no curry and definitely NO GARLIC!
The idea of someone paying through the nose for frosted seagull spit served on a bed of savoury moss followed by rabbit cutlet and single petit pois with a Bisto jus, and finally spring water sorbet with a vague idea of summer breeze is ridiculous. You just know these silly taste testers are stopping off a a chippy on the way home.
This gourmet world and the snobbery that surrounds it is the starting point for The Menu, a tale of purgatory over five courses in which director Mark Mylod steals shamelessly from the 1980s Peter Greenaway style book for an entertaining, if not exactly filling, dark satire on haute cuisine.
A group of specially invited guests, including a faded movie star (John Leguizamo, who claims to have based his unlikeable character on Steven Seagal, who he has described in interviews as a “horrible human”), the food critic whose article years before had first brought the world’s attention to the chef’s culinary brilliance, super fan Nicholas Hoult and his last minute replacement date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) attend a taste adventure at a private island where celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) has his exclusive restaurant.
But this is more than a night of fun for foodies with the chef as applauded artist. The typically temperamental genius has something different planned. For one night only.
The dishes are every bit as ludicrous as the ones I made up above – that’s part of the appeal – and the guests are so shallow that everything that befalls them feels like it’s deserved.
It’s difficult to image any other actor than Fiennes in the role of Slowik. His deadpan delivery adds extra seasoning (and comedy) to the increasing mayhem going on at his behest.
Taylor-Joy, meanwhile, as the single unknown ingredient to the evening’s plan, is the figure the camera seems to search for throughout the entire film.
At times amusing, with the odd shock thrown in for good measure and enough going on to keep the palate engaged.
But 10 minutes later, you’ll be feeling peckish again.