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TLDR: The Menu (2022)
This is just theatre - it's stagecraft!
Plot: A couple travels to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
Direction & Screenplay: I am combining these categories because of the masterful way in which these two elements work together. The wit of the written word and the dynamic direction make every joke land and every moment thrilling. Truly impeccable. This film had me eating out of the palm of its hand even when intentionally predictable, and got some of the biggest laughs out of me this year at the movies.
Performances: Ralph Fiennes gave a tour-de-force performance that I will remember for many, many years to come. His inflection, tone, timing, and nuanced body language demanded your attention without becoming too domineering. Arguably one of the best performances I've seen all year, maybe even in the past several years.
Nicholas Hoult is a personal favorite actor of mine since watching his boyhood performances in movies like About a Boy and tv shows like Skins. I've always felt he had the capability to be a truly great actor, and his range and ability are on full display here. I will always be rooting for him.
Admittedly, I am not Anya Taylor-Joy's biggest fan. I think she is very talented but she just isn't at the top of any lists for me. She does her very best in this performance. If you like her, you'll love her in this.
This ensemble cast includes several other heavy hitters, all of which are truly wonderful, but my personal favorites included Paul Adelstein, Janet McTeer, John Leguizamo, Hong Chau, and Arturo Castro.
Cinematography: You forget you are primarily in one room for a majority of the film because of the depth cinematographer Peter Deming creates. Beautifully lit and shot. Didn't have that greenish-grayish tint that psychological thrillers tend to have for the sole purpose of giving them "edge."
Best moment: See Imaginary Accolade.
Fun fact: Anya Taylor Joy has "no interest in cooking so long as delivery and takeout exist." Love that for her.
Imaginary accolade: Greatest Ivy League Diss in Cinematic History
Everything is too long. Is it too long? The rare case in which each minute was skillfully earned. Not too long, not too short. Every minute serves a purpose.
See it in cinemas or wait for streaming: You have a 45-second head start. Run (to your nearest theatre).
Rating: 5 Courses / 5
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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