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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

‘The Menu’: When your passion becomes a burden

The release of Mark Mylod’s “The Menu” came during a time where I was struggling with my passion for art. Where the fun was no longer there, not the carefree emotions I used to have, now being replaced with the burden of finishing work and moving on to the next piece. It was an emotionally draining time, one where I wondered constantly if I would be able to handle this lifestyle I’ve chosen for years to come. Then during winter break, I realized “The Menu” was on HBO Max and decided to give it a watch. What I expected to be a horror thriller about a psycho chef, turned out to be a beautiful dark comedy with themes on losing passion for something you once adored.

The film is centered mainly around “Food expert” Tyler Ledford (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy) who travel by boat to Hawthorn, a Michelin-starred restaurant run by Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) on a private island. Other guests such as food critics, washed-up celebrities and business partners also join the party. With all of these one-percenters paying over $1,000 to see and eat Slowik’s food, also comes with a lecture on the deep meaning behind each dish, with each course getting more bizarre as the film goes on.

I fell in love with the wackiness of each dish being presented, as I as well as others out there have at least once made fun of a renowned chef explaining their course and the meaning behind it. There’s no shame in having meaning behind a meal, but there comes a point where you wonder to yourself, “Why are you going so deep with this, it’s just food,” and Mylods represents that perfectly with Slowik’s meals. Warning, spoiler alert: One of the meals is literally a bread plate… with no bread. It is hilarious and entertaining to watch the food critics talk about the deep complexities of the dish, while our main character Margot calls the chef out immediately for how absurd this is. 

What I adore the most, however, is how they portray Slowik as a man who has forgotten the true purpose behind his profession. He tries his best to turn his food into art that he no longer enjoys cooking anymore. It is something I relate to. Art for me, used to be pure joy, where I can paint or draw whatever I want. I didn’t care if it looked bad or amazing, it was something I enjoyed doing. Now, I have a deadline to meet to finish pieces. I have to look for the deeper meaning behind my piece,with no room to truly experiment without the risk of making it look bad. It was and continues to be draining. Draining the passion I once had for something I love that is now just a burden.

I wish I could get more into the film without spoiling it, but “The Menu” is a fun time. The twists are executed well, and the chemistry between the characters is amazing. You can tell they all had a great time making this film. While it is not particularly scary, the suspense will keep you locked in and wondering about the fate of our cast, while also having a few laughs and learned lessons along the way.

Title: “The Menu”

Director: Mark Mylod

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes

Where to watch: HBO Max

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at