The Menu’s sole purpose is to alienate the upper-class pawns through indignation and granting them their every desire – even self-destruction. Mark Mylod’s misanthropic social satire is revenge-based. The servant class exacts revenge on the rich. The script exposes their passions and knowledge showing a hollow shell of a person underneath. Mylod’s half-horror, half-social critique smashes the messaging home, making clear what we’re supposed to be learning from this experience. The heavy-handed approach doesn’t lend itself well to subtlety, but what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for with shock. Murder, hunting, fake bread, and shouting-contest make up the plot, with smaller subplots underlining the fate of all the customers.
Regardless of the messaging, Ralph Fiennes will force your attention to the screen, looking at him as he’s feasting with every frame. He eats up the screen time, and turns a ham-fisted character study into a realized person with hopes and dreams. Equally so, he extracts great performances out from his cast members. Hong Chau and Anya Taylor-Joy, to name a pair. Nicholas Holt’s portrayal is far too on the nose to feel anything strongly and pulls down a bit of the drama. The revealing nature of the script allows these actors to spread their creative wings a bit and get crazy, but there’s many uneven tones and moods happening at once.
However, credit to an all-time great like Fiennes, always providing some new semblance of his Schindler’s List (1993) character – Amon Goeth. A character that set his career in one particular direction and he’s been getting cast in similar roles ever since. It’s the familiar archetype and here he balances fierceness and patheticness beautifully. His scenes across ATJ are the highlight of the film.
- The hunt sequence was horribly misconstrued and executed. Underlit, weirdly inserted portion of the script that should’ve been cut entirely.
- The blocking of Mylod deserves credit, knowing where and when to place Fiennes in the shot and scene to dramatic effect
- Less of a critique with how blatant the script is written, but it doubling as a mildly successful horror film is what makes the underlying message more prevalent