‘The Menu’ — A Film Critiquing Our Time

by Frank Martin

While it’s not integral for a good movie, theme is very important in order to make a profound movie. Theme is what makes a film about something. Movies like comedies, romances, and action flicks don’t necessarily need a theme because they can accomplish their mission to entertain without one. But when a film is built around a strong theme, it has the potential to resonate with its audience on a cultural and timely level. And that’s exactly what The Menu does.

The movie stars Ralph Fiennes as a world class chef who creates a restaurant on a remote island; only the super wealthy are able to afford the exorbitant price tag of a meal there. But it’s more than just food that he serves — he offers a true dining story that goes beyond the plate. For his final performance, the megalomaniac chef selects his customers very carefully and plans to end the evening with a very special dessert.

On the surface, the story might seem like a ridiculous dark comedy with unnerving levels of suspense and drama, but it is also a very poignant critique about our society. There is a scene in which one of the chef’s biggest admirers — someone who truly appreciates his art — is granted an honorary role as chef. He’s then berated into making a dish himself, which is atrocious. Although it’s hard to watch, the scene is emblematic of so much about our culture. Everyone is so quick to judge and critique that sometimes people forget just how difficult it is to make art. So many blockbuster films are quickly dismissed when the average person wouldn’t have any idea how to do anything better. The film is truly a message about how we as a society should slow down and enjoy more while leaving our opinions at the door.

The Menu is now streaming on HBO Max.

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