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'The Menu' cooks up delicious class commentary that shows 'eating the rich' tastes sweet

Anya Taylor-Joy stars in "The Menu," a class-conscious thriller that's worth your watch. – Photo by @TheMenuFilm / Twitter

Mark Mylod’s "The Menu" is one of the most original and intriguing films that’s been released in 2022, especially in this competitive last quarter of movie releases.

"The Menu," which was released in theatres November 18, is a darkly comedic horror/thriller about a group of obnoxiously rich people who attend a 10-course meal at the super exclusive and expensive restaurant named Hawthorne, run by strict head chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).

The main character Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is down to Earth and couldn’t care less about any of this, is brought to Hawthorne at the last minute by a Julian fanboy and chronic mansplainer, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult).

As each course goes by, we get a glimpse into the grating personalities and experiences of the dinner guests as the experience gets more chaotic and more deadly.

And as every good horror/thriller has, there are many additions to the film that only accentuates the tension. Every time a dish is served, it's followed by Julian’s unnerving commentary and a loud clap. Not to mention the cult-like "yes chef!" that is repeated by Julian’s loyal team, which includes an impressive performance by Hong Chau as Elsa, the main host and manager.

One of the strongest aspects of "The Menu" is its comedy. It’s understated and not necessarily filled with punch lines but takes a rather unique approach in garnering laughs with its title cards describing each meal, which get more unhinged and humorous as the story becomes intense. One specific title card toward the end of the film is hilarious and even happens to seal a character’s fate.

But the comedy wouldn’t be there without its clear satire and social commentary. That’s the essence of this film, and what makes these characters and plot stand out among the rest. We’ve all seen and heard (and been annoyed by) these types of people before who have been represented: the tech bros, the rich businessmen, the powerful critics and the people so insecure they will ruin anyone for approval.

And we’ve recently seen an influx of the social satire genre in movies and TV, with a focus on privileged society — think media like "The White Lotus" and "Knives Out." These are what I like to call "eat the rich"-type stories and are fascinating because there will always be something to critique and a sense of relatability, whether done right or wrong.

It only makes sense that one of the producers, along with Will Ferrell, is Adam McKay, who is notable for his work on other "let’s make fun of the rich and tone deaf" projects such as "Succession" (who Mylod is also a producer on) and "Don’t Look Up," which general and critical audiences either loved or hated.

But without a doubt, "The Menu" is an "eat the rich" film done right.

A lot of the excellence behind the film is due to Taylor-Joy’s outstanding performance as Margot. If there’s anything Taylor-Joy knows how to do, it’s how to be a "final girl." Margot is easy to root for while also having a mystery to her because you might be surprised to discover that she has something in common with Julian.

Hoult is fantastic at being perfectly irritating in his portrayal of Tyler, while Fiennes is chilling as Julian, a less fun and more ruthless Gordon Ramsay who hates people that don’t have student loans.

Although the events in this film depict its own "Kitchen Nightmares," its execution is one of a dream. Seth Reiss and Will Tracy’s script is thrilling and will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

Add standout performances, comedic elements and a shocking story, and you will have "The Menu" — a recipe for greatness.

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