The movie “The Menu” by Mark Mylod has just been released in Luxembourg. A gustatory thriller, about the difficulty of being a chef, obsessions and the concept of art in cooking.
When did chef Julian Slovik lose his passion? When did he begin to hate those who made him what he is? During the lockdown perhaps. Where did the introspection come from. Fed up with people who don’t respect anything. Who pay 1.250$ for a meal without even remembering what they have eaten. Or from further back perhaps. Of his life of sacrifice, of his mocked art, of his daily constraints or of his missed childhood? This is what Mark Mylod’s first film ( “Succession” series) is all about. About power, about doing and undoing, about pleasing, about selling out.
Twelve hand-picked guests arrive on an island by boat. On the island is Chef Slovik’s fancy restaurant, where they will dine tonight. On their arrival they discover the many beauties of the place and its ecosystem. The farms, the fisheries, the beehives, the vegetables, the plants… Installed in front of a large bay window overlooking the sea, they discover the cold and theatrical arrival of the master of the house, who introduces them to their dishes throughout the evening. But the evolution of this “exclusive” gastronomic dinner will not please everyone…
If you like a forced laugh, this is the film for you. Sarcastic, sharp and corrosive, it highlights the absurdities of the extremes in the high-class gastronomy world.
There’s the food critic who pushes the boundaries of the ridiculous by finding exaggerated explanations for everything, constantly digging up forgotten words to make her article more outstanding. “We can talk about an ecosystem,” says her colleague. “No,” she replies, “it’s a biome, I’m telling you it’s a biome. “Here, it’s thalassic…”
There is this young couple. Him, who doesn’t know how to behave, takes pictures, tastes his partner’s dish all the time, cuts the chef off, is overexcited, thinks he knows everything. He is lost in his adulation for this chef whom he has been following for years and whom he had never met.
The three young billionaire partners who have come to enjoy themselves, an old couple who have come here for the seventh time, a forgotten actor who is trying to keep his assistant from leaving… And an old lady in pyjamas, alone at a table, drinking wine.
Dishes and traumas
The dishes arrive (created for the film by three-star Chef Dominique Crenn from San Francisco), the melon and cucumber amuse-bouche accompanied by a 2014 Chassagne Montrachet, the starter, entitled “The Island” featuring a rock and scallop accompanied by a 2013 pinot noir, “The Memory”, which starts to be disturbing, and then “Chaos”, which marks the breaking point of this singular dinner. Accompanied by a Cabernet Franc from Domaine Breton…
The rest of the menu will not necessarily be remembered. Because everything has already changed. As lovers of good food as we are, we devoured the first dishes with our eyes and even laughed at some of the inconsistencies of the menu. From now on, our heart beats a little harder.
An appealing cast
In this culinary thriller, Ralph Fiennes (James Bond’s M, The Reader…) leads the dance of the pans. His ice-cold look and attitude are the perfect match for his role as a chef. Anya Taylor Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, Peaky Blinders…) plays very well, coming up with the lines we would have liked to send ourselves, and Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max, Tolkien…) plays magnificently the blinded and stupid fan, capable of doing anything to please his idol. Watching this grating satire of the world of high-end cooking will bring many laughs. But you will never again return to a great chef’s house without thinking about the “Menu”.