Jean was complaining that I hadn’t posted anything in ever-so-long—which is kind of true. I’m off for some Christmas vacation time now, so possibly a few posts will be forthcoming. I’ll start here, though, not because it’s most urgent or relevant, but just that it should be good for warming up the writing muscles.
Early in December, we left our house to go to the cinema and see a movie in person! Now, unlike some people, we have done this on a few occasions in these After Times. But I had not realized quite how long it had been since we had visited the Princess Cinema. So long that our membership cards had expired—in July.
We decided that a new membership was probably not a wise investment, even though you only have to see something like three movies a year to make it worthwhile. We just paid the non-member price to see The Menu.
The Menu begins with a small group of people waiting to board a boat to a highly exclusive restaurant on an island. At the centre are Margot, played by Anya Taylor-Joy of Queen’s Gambit fame, and her date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult). Margot wonders how the restaurant can be profitable with such a small clientele. “$1,250 a person” replies Tyler. Margot is stunned, but since it’s on Tyler’s dime, is game to go along.
Not being a devotee of the “foodie” scene, however, Margot finds the serving rituals and staff manner rather odd. To someone who does do the “foodie” thing on occasion (albeit not at $1,250 a pop), the emphasis on freshness and regionality (when the clients arrive, staff are literally fishing for the scallops to be served later), the open kitchen and extensive table settings, and the elaborate presentation of each course is kind of familiar—but in this movie, also a bit strange. The staff is so disciplined. The rules of dining are so strict. And aren’t locked doors a fire hazard?
And the bread course? I don’t want to spoil what happens there, but while kind of weird and off-putting, it also seems, maybe, possible?
But as hinted in the trailer, the movie then moves on from the merely strange to… rather horrifying. (No soylent green, though!) For the squeamish, I would say, that while there is violence, it was nothing I couldn’t handle—and I’m pretty squeamish. Though I possibly did close my eyes at one moment…
Class issues definitely come up, particularly centred on Margot, the one client in a different socioeconomic class than everyone else there.
And through all this, the movie remains pretty funny. You’re never lulled into thinking it’s a documentary. “Dark comedy”, they say. I guess that’s a good descriptor.
I found it all pretty riveting, from the mocking of foodie culture, to the dark turn, to the various plot twists. Jean was never bored, but he wasn’t sure until if he actually liked the movie. But finally concluded that he did (though he was also left wondering if he should feel guilty about love of fine dining).
I think it would definitely appeal to other foodies, to horror fans, to fans of dark comedies, or those who appreciate movies with originality.