Your donation will support the student journalists of Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, attend journalism conferences, and cover our annual website hosting costs.
Film in 2021-2022
May 3, 2023
4th watch : The Menu : Directed by Mark Myloyd and written by Will Tracy
The Menu, being published towards the end of November, ended 2022 with a bang. This mystery/thriller can be compared to movies like “Knives Out”, “Don’t Worry Darling”, and “The Banshees of Inisheerin”. Not only does this movie have a fantastic cast with actors like Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Finneas, and Nicholas Hoult, but it has an intense and satirical tone. Director Mark Mylod draws the audience in with a yin and yang couple Margot and Tyler. The couple, or more so Tyler himself is immersed in fine-dining and culinary arts. As the couple boards a ferry, they meet eclectic washed up celebrities, social media influencers, and high-end “food critics”. This ferry will take our characters to Chef Slowiks own private island “Hawthorne”, and laboratory of a kitchen. Chef Slowik, played by Ralph Finneas is a meditative and hostile chef and opens each dish with a singular clap, in an effort to get everyone’s attention. The staff of the island are hair-raising and unsettling characters, for reasons unknown. As the couple walks towards the host stand, Margot is unrecognized because Tyler was planning on bringing his now ex-girlfriend but brought Margot instead. The characters are greeted by Chef Slowiks’ right hand woman, Elsa. Slowkis’ perspective of food isn’t just about eating, but about every singular detail making food an art form. This is shown in the kitchen’s first course called “The Island”. Each course has its own story and its list of ingredients help tell a tale of past-tense and foreshadow. Elsa and Slowik are clearly distraught over Margot’s presence, almost like she knows that something isn’t right. The next course is called “Breadless Bread Plate”, which consists of a wooden board with multiple different sauces and no bread. As each guest becomes more and more unsettled with the idiosyncrasies of the restaurant, traits of hostility from the kitchen and Elsa arise. The next course is called “Memory”. The camera pans to Slowik with a lone woman in the corner, his mother. Slowik tells a story of his trauma and the relationship between him, his father and his mother. This then leads to the course of chicken thighs al pastor and freshly made corn tortillas. Each tortilla sphere given to each guest contains a picture of their secrets, and some of their deepest and most hidden memories. Margot’s doubts about the restaurant continue when she gets up to leave but is stopped in her tracks and is escorted to the ladies room. As she lights a cigarette Chef Slowik creeps his way into the stall, catching Margot. Slowik responds to her actions by saying “you’re not supposed to be here” as aforementioned when she was not originally invited to the trip. When Margot and Slowik return from the restroom, the fourth course is presented as “The Mess”. Two servers roll tarp over the floor and windows and decorate with edible flowers and plants. Slowik introduces sous-chef Jeremy, clearly shaken up and nervous. Jeremy sees Slowik as an inspiration but struggles with finding individuality. After Slowik interrogates Jeremy, he pulls a shotgun out of his back and shoots himself in the head. The course states, “THE MESS – Pressure-cooked beef, bone broth, heirloom carrots and potatoes. R.I.P. Jeremy Loucks, 1988-2020.” As each guest panics, they are met with hostile staff members and violence, as one of the servers cuts a guest’s finger off for trying to leave. As they get to the final course, Margot decides to pretend to join Chef Slowik in an attempt to escape the island. We see Margot go to fetch for help and call off a coast guard nearby to save herself and the guests. This not only backfires completely, but was a setup so Chef Slowik knew if any guest attempted to leave. Later on in this scene, we see Margot touring Slowiks room, and sees a picture of Slowiks first ever cook job, at a good old-fashioned hamburger restaurant. This photo not only sparks up an idea for Margot, but in the end saves her life. As the final course approaches, Margot states she is not hungry and simply asks for Slowik to cook her a cheeseburger. This can be explained simply, being that Margot knew if she could connect solemn Slowik to his childhood, she would have a chance of escaping. Slowik lets Margot go, but without a place to hide she sits on the edge of the boat dock, eats her cheeseburger, and watches as Hawthorn slowly burns down. This finale represents the “final woman” idea, being that with enough smarts Margot can escape even death. With any other ending to the movie, the audience wouldn’t have felt the same relief, as we watch the protagonist survive.
The mastermind of Will Tracy portrays each character in such a way that only few can understand. Although the antagonist, Slowik, is clearly a sadistic character, the final scene shows a side of him that we have not seen. His gentle and kind words almost make the audience feel pity for his actions, despite the slow burn end to the movie. Overall, The Menu was an incredible way to close the year of 2022, and captured the essence of physiological thrillers throughout the year.