07 Jan Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Menu on HBO Max
From the first time I saw a preview for the film, I was intrigued. So when The Menu was scheduled to open in theaters on Friday, November 18th, I was sure to purchase a ticket. It was the first movie I had watched in a movie theater since prior to Covid. I laughed; I sat on the edge of my seat anticipating what was to come; I loved it. A few weeks later, a friend invited me to a screening of The Menu and this time I was able to fully enjoy the dialogue and visuals as I already knew what was to come. And now, a month later, The Menu is available to stream on HBO Max and so I watched it again. I guess you can guess that if I have watched the film three times, then The Menu is the Please The Palate Pick of the Week.
The Menu stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo, Judith Light, and more, including Hong Chau. Hong Chau who plays the restaurant manager and second in command to Fiennes’ Chef Slowik, is a standout.
The Menu is about renowned chef Julian Slowik who has a restaurant, Hawthorne, on a private island. This restaurant is exclusive, both by location and by price. It is located on an island and guests have a take a boat to get there, whereas the entire restaurant team lives on the island. And the price is prohibitive. At $1250 per head, only the elite are able to dine there.
And who is able to spend money like this on a meal? At this particular meal are the perfect examples of the type of people. There is the older couple who barely speak to each other who have dined there numerous times because they can. There are the three arrogant “bros” who work in finance who are eating there because they can. There is the has-been celebrity and his assistant who have a table. There is the food critic and her ass-kissing editor. And there is the over-eager foodie with his date.
Chef Dominique Crenn consulted on the film which offers an authenticity on all aspects of the film, from the restaurant design and service to the dishes and descriptions.
From the moment the guests arrive via boat and tour the island to when they sit down to start the meal, the viewer will wonder what is going to happen. The guests are welcomed with the Amuse and the meal has begun. With each course, Chef Slowik commands the room’s attention with a large, disruptive clap before he introduces the dish. There is a story to each dish that is matched by its visual presentation. And it is throughout this multi-course meal that the story unfolds. Each course peels a layer which surprises the diners, as it surprises the audience.
I am not going to divulge what happens because it is too delicious and must be watched. But this movie is humor and satire mixed with horror. It is intellectual and visual. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. It is a perfect arch from start to finish, beginning with the first course to the final course.
The Menu can be enjoyed on many different levels. But having seen the movie three times now, what I find myself enjoying the most is the dialogue. It makes me laugh and it makes me think. I am sure I will be watching The Menu again.