2023-03-17  Adjacent interests

I’m very glad I didn’t go to see The Menu at the cinema. Not because it’s a bad film, but because as somebody who suffers from intermittent anxiety, visiting a restaurant can sometimes be quite a tense experience.

Will I like the food? If I don’t, should I eat it anyway? Will I seem uncultured if I don’t recognise the more exotic menu items? Are the waiting staff secretly judging me based on our brief interactions or overheard comments? The Menu takes these anxieties, which I’m sure are common to some degree amongst much of the population, and cranks the dial up to 11.

Dinner is served

The relatively mundane opening sees a group of customers pay $1,250 a head to visit an exclusive restaurant on an island, but even as they tuck in to their first courses, there are glances and comments that set off those internal alarm bells. It really makes for quite uncomfortable viewing.

Among the guests are an obsessive foodie and his date, a restaurant critic, an actor, and a group of fintech bros. It feels like a very Knives Out kind of group. For the first third of the film we watch them tour the island and eat, with a looming sense of dread (owed to an expertly creepy performance from Hong Chau as the maitre d’, Elsa) and some very sharp comedic writing.

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