November 25, 2022

Over these previous few years, the phrase “eat the wealthy” has been accumulating fairly a bit of recognition in our cultural lexicon. Initially an anticapitalist slogan coined by political thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “eat the wealthy” has develop into extra relevant than ever, utilized by the plenty as a response to a rising dissatisfaction towards billionaires and different beneficiaries of the 1%.

It’s additionally been thematized closely in up to date popular culture, gaining traction beginning in 2019 with the arrival of movies just like the riveting Finest Image winner Parasite, the cat-and-mouse thriller Prepared or Not, the star-studded whodunnit Knives Out, and the stripper crime comedy Hustlers. Every of those tales tried to critique the techniques and ideologies that drive and protect the ever-widening wealth hole between the haves and have nots, with Parasite arguably being the platonic superb of this socioeconomic commentary development.

2022 has seen one other uptick in “eat the wealthy” media: the absurdist Palme d’Or victor Triangle of Unhappiness, the foodie-skewering satire The Menu, and the Knives Out sequel Glass Onion. However the place Triangle of Unhappiness’s parody of the higher class stays a largely entertaining (if imperfect) romp, The Menu and Glass Onion reveals the restrictions of what narrative storytelling can accomplish in condemning a demographic that might care much less about being criticized.

Directed by Succession mainstay Mark Mylod and produced by Adam McKay, The Menu guarantees a delectably enjoyable time — a minimum of on the floor. Its plot facilities round Margo Mills (Anya Taylor-Pleasure), her pompous gourmand boyfriend Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), and a collection of rich friends who dine at an unique restaurant, situated on a distant island and run by esteemed chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). Alongside along with his militant hostess Elsa (Hong Chau), and his strictly regimented kitchen workers, Julian prepares the friends for a night of fastidiously curated conceptual delicacies, however ultimately delivers some nefarious surprises that throws everybody for a loop.

Whereas it boasts a duo of spiky performances from Taylor-Pleasure and Fiennes, The Menu’s tackle “eat the wealthy” is disappointingly shallow, particularly provided that just about each character is a broadly stroked cipher that embodies a sure kind of bourgeois character. The piecemeal nibbles of background we get of them feels intentional, a way of illustrating the vacuity and superficiality of their life, however their hollowness doesn’t essentially make for an fascinating narrative.

Due to these characters’ shallow nature, the movie is a manipulative cop-out, an all-too-easy technique of portray them in an unsympathetic mild in order that we are able to relish their inevitable comeuppance in a while with out feeling any regret. The one intriguing if nonetheless considerably flawed emotional throughline in The Menu is the connection between Julian and Margo, a uniquely empathetic dynamic between two outsiders who clearly resent the insiders.

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