A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu with some shocking surprises.
THE GOOD STUFF
ZANINESS- I will give credit where credit is due. The trailer for this movie is advertising something that gets pretty zany. However, as zany as the trailer is, it doesn’t even come close to covering how ABSOLUTELY BATSHIT INSANE things become. The second act of this movie is about as unpredictable as movies get, and the first act sets up the absolute lunacy of what is to come very well.
RALPH FIENNES- I appreciate this performance for showing just how much of a jack-of-all-trades Fiennes has been for the last 30 years or so. This performance is a perfect mixture of everything he does well. The stage-trained Shakespearean stuff is definitely here, the tenderness and the vulnerability that he’s displayed in many films before, and the deadpan comedy that he can nail at the drop of a dime. A really fun performance that owns this movie.
ANNA TAYLOR-JOY- The Anna Taylor-Joy detractors have always confused me. I say that as a guy who’s never truly been overwhelmingly impressed by any particular performance of hers outside of the Queen’s Gambit miniseries on Netflix, Joy is an actress who is a model of consistency. Not very many home runs but a lot of ground-rule doubles (hopefully you understand that sports term) on screen.
Joy holds her own with the very best in the business, and that very much includes Ralph Fiennes in this film. All the scenes that they have together are absolutely fantastic, no matter how ridiculous the scenario the two characters are in. And it gets pretty ridiculous.
THE BAD STUFF
BUFFET OF BACKSTORIES- This cast list is a who’s who of unsung hero-type character actors that have been around for ages. John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer, Hong Chow, Judith Light, and others. To people who are familiar with the work of any handful of these actors, the poster alone could sell the movie.
However, this is actually a humongous detriment to the film. I counted no less than five subplots in this film having nothing to do with the main story that’s going on. Subplots that really don’t have a direction or an ending in any satisfactory way. All of the actors do what they can with what they have. They just really don’t have a lot to do.
NICHOLAS HOULT- This very much includes the performance of Nicholas Hoult. A man who, by this time, is proven himself to be one of the better scene stealers in the game. The potential of this character’s weirdness to stand out in a movie filled to the brim with eccentric characters and scenarios was very high.
And yet, there are some very bizarre storytelling choices when it comes to this character. For some reason, this character feels like he’s in a different movie than the rest of the cast and wears out his welcome very, very fast.
THE UGLY STUFF
THE 3RD ACT- The third act of this film is an absolute disaster. Full stop. Character motivations get thrown out of the window, entire storylines get dropped, things that were built up to have a bigger presence early in the film go simply nowhere, and the climax of the film is nonsensical.
There are so many glaring plot holes in this movie, that at one point, a character flat out says one of the plot holes that you undoubtedly will have in your head at that point in the story if you are actually turning your brain on to think about the things you’ve just seen.
This third act is so confounding I’m absolutely certain rewrites were had. The kind of painstaking studio-slashing rewrites that would drive a screenwriter absolutely mad. But that is just a theory.
I can only imagine being an actor reading this script for the first time and being really impressed by how much clever s*** is going on. At the end of the day, the menu is cleverness for cleverness’s sake. Promise is high concept, the dialogue is on point, and the acting is terrific in most cases. The camera work is respectable, and the shots of the food are wonderfully done.
This movie gets pretty much all aspects of movie-making spot on… Except for the story. I understand this movie is not supposed to be taken seriously at all. However, things have to make sense, don’t they?
This is a movie designed for people who have the ability to turn their brains off and let the movie take them wherever it wants to take them. To those who can’t do that, you might want to avoid this one.