The Menu Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Become a part of the The Menu: analysis of black comedy. Meaning of the movie The Menu (2022) plot summary, explanation of the ending, essence, similar films.

The plot and meaning of the film The Menu cannot be interpreted unambiguously. This is one of those films where the idea seems to be on the surface, but at the same time you can see a lot of other themes in them. This black comedy is a satire on the world of the wealthy and also offers a glimpse of the arts in general through the theme of culinary excellence. At the same time, such an interpretation does not cancel others, for example, the search for references to religious themes in the picture. In the Menu, many things, such as dishes and their concept, can be viewed from different angles.

Country: USA

Genre: Thriller, horror, black comedy

Year of production: 2022

Directed by: Mark Mylod

Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult

tagline: “Wonderful surprises await you all”

Awards and Nominations: Golden Globe 2023: Nominated Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical – Ralph Fiennes Nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical – Anya Taylor-Joy

What is the movie about

Better understand the essence of the film “The Menu” will help analysis of the plot.

Hawthorne Island is home to a restaurant run by chef Julian Slovik. Only wealthy clients get here by personal invitation.

top restaurantRalph Fiennes played the role of Julian Slovik. Frame from the film.

The next dinner is attended by Tyler Ledford and his companion Margo Mills, an elderly couple Richard and Anna Leibrandt, restaurant critic Lillian Bloom and editor Ted, film actor George Diaz and his assistant Felicity Lynn, financiers Bryce, Soren and Dave.

On the island, guests are met by the head waiter Elsa. She notices that Tyler has another date reported. Ledford explains that her plans have changed, so he invited Margo. Elsa leads the tour. She talks about the staff, explains that they consider themselves one family and shows the room where they all live together. Tyler sees Slovik’s house and wishes to enter, but Elsa explains that even the staff is not allowed to. At the restaurant, she announces that photos of the dishes are not allowed and informs the chef about the change in the guest list.

The film “Menu” is divided into chapters. Their names are the names of dishes served to guests.

While serving the appetizer, Tyler secretly takes a photo of the dish and then tells Margot about his passion for food and that he is a fan of Slovik’s talent.

The chef welcomes guests and announces the start of dinner. He asks not to eat, but to try, to savor the dishes in order to appreciate them, and then offers the first course. Tyler is touched by his description and worries about accidentally interrupting Slovik. Margo says it doesn’t matter in the service industry.

Before serving the second course, the chef talks about the role of bread in the lives of ordinary people, and then says that the guests are not mere mortals, which means they are not supposed to have bread. Visitors are served bread plates with savory sauces, but without the bread the restaurant is famous for. Some clients perceive it as a joke, others try to find a hidden meaning in it.

Anya Taylor-JoyThe role of Margot was played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Frame from the film.

Tyler admires the chef’s idea and the concept of the dish. Margo explains that he is being bullied and should not allow it.

The chef approaches Margot and asks why she is not eating. An argument ensues, the girl says that she herself will decide what and when to eat. Slovik leaves, which Tyler considers a humiliation.

The chef announces the third dish, which he says will evoke memory. Guests are served tortillas with pictures that point to their wrongdoings. The critic has reviews of restaurants that have subsequently closed, Tyler has a picture where he secretly photographs dishes. The film actor has a movie poster, the financiers have documents revealing their machinations. On the Leibrandt tortillas, Richard is in the company of another woman.

The Chief tells Margo that he’s upset that she’s not eating anything, asks where she’s from, and announces that she shouldn’t be here.

The Chef announces that Sous Chef Jeremy Louden came up with the next dish and introduces it. After explaining his idea, Jeremy pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head. Chief says it’s part of the show. An elderly couple tries to leave the restaurant, but they are stopped, Richard’s finger is cut off.

Slovik informs Margo that the entire dinner and guest lists were planned, except for her. She does not fit into the plan and spoils it. He explains that everyone will die in the evening and asks who she wants to die with – with the staff or with the guests.

Slovik invites customers to perceive themselves as ingredients in a conceptual menu. He explains that they all got here for their deeds. The critic is the cause of disaster for many establishments, the editor is her sycophant. Leibrandts are frequent guests, but they do not appreciate the work of the chef and simply exploit him. For them, this is just a way to show their status. He explains that he lost his love for cooking while working for the likes of them and announces that everyone in the restaurant will die tonight. In the next episode, he shows how the owner of the restaurant is drowned in the sea, and calls him wrong.

Nicholas HoultAnya Taylor-Joy as Margo, Nicholas Hoult as Tyler. Frame from the film.

The Chief decides that Margot will die with the staff. When asked how she knows Leibrandt, Margot explains that she works as an escort, and Richard was her client.

The next dish is presented by Sous Chef Katherine Keller. She announces the name and then the men are allowed to try to escape the island.

Margo explains to Anna how she knows her husband. Katherine confirms that everyone will die tonight, and says that this is necessary to tie together the evening’s events that are part of the menu and thus complete its creation.

The men are returned to the restaurant. Operations invites Tyler to tell him why he’s here. From the content of the conversation, it turns out that Ledford knew that everyone would die, but still decided to come. The girl left him, and he invited Margot, because you can only get to dinner in a couple. The chef praises Tyler for his knowledge of cooking. Then he invites him to demonstrate his strength.

Tyler cooks, Slovik taunts him, then criticizes the dish. He explains that the likes of Ledford are the reason the mystery has disappeared from the culinary arts. He then whispers a few words into the man’s ear, and Ledford leaves the premises.

Slovik asks Margot to bring a large barrel for dessert from the smokehouse. The girl goes and sees Tyler hanging himself.

Margot sneaks into Slovik’s house. Elsa attacks her with a knife, the girl accidentally kills her. In the house, she finds a photo of the chef preparing hamburgers at a fast food restaurant. Finding the radio station, she calls for help.

A Coast Guard boat arrives. The officer arrests the chef, but it turns out that this is a prank, and he is one of the restaurant’s employees.

The Menu Ending explanation

Margot tells the chef that she doesn’t like the dishes and demands a refund. She explains that Slovik has failed in his task of feeding people food they will enjoy, and that is why she is hungry.

Slovik asks what the girl wants to eat. Margo asks for a cheeseburger and fries. The chef himself prepares the order and for a short time again feels interest and love for his work.

The girl tries a hamburger and praises Slovik. Then he asks if he can take food to go. The chef packs the order and releases her. The point of this ending of the movie “Menu” is that he is grateful to her for helping him to feel the love of cooking again and for her respect for his profession. Margot gets into the boat and leaves.

At the end of the film “Menu”, the chef announces that the clients will be part of his latest masterpiece. The staff prepares dessert s’mores: cookies are sprinkled on the floor, guests are dressed in marshmallow stoles and chocolate hats. Slovik explains that the dish is transformed under the influence of fire and suggests taking a cleansing fire that will change their essence.

Off the island, Margo watches the explosion. Looking at the flames, she eats a hamburger and then wipes her mouth with a copy of the menu.

chef and margoFrame from the film.

The meaning of the film

The film “Menu” is a social satire that criticizes the consumer society: rich people, their vanity and concern for their reputation. The director shows how they relate not only to culinary skills, but also to art in general: for them, this is a way to show status, they do not perceive the works themselves.

In Menu, such people are the Leibrandts. At the end of the movie, these regular restaurant guests cannot remember the names and ingredients of the dishes they ate earlier. This suggests that they touch art, but they cannot understand and appreciate its meaning.

The film’s premise is revealed both through the financiers discussing they can brag about being at the Hawthorne, and through the film actor visiting the restaurant for the same purpose. They cannot appreciate the chef’s masterpieces, but it doesn’t matter to them, the main thing for them is to show their status. This is the explanation of the movie star’s dialogue with the assistant asking how he likes the dish. The man replies: “Delicious.” The girl says that this is not accepted, it is necessary to embellish, to demonstrate that he understands what he eats. The meaning of these words is ambiguous: they show the ignorance of the film actor, but at the same time it is also a mockery, demonstrating that one cannot simply express one’s emotions here. It is necessary to speak snobbishly and pompously, even if you do not understand.

Paul EdelsteinPaul Edelstein played the role of Ted. Frame from the film.

The director shows us another group of people – the critic and the editor. They carefully study the dishes in order to find at least some flaws in them and with pathos come up with ridiculous descriptions for them. It is no coincidence that many scenes are given to them.

The hidden meaning of the characters is that their example shows criticism not only in cooking, but also in art in general: in cinema, music, literature. With their reviews, representatives of this profession not only close restaurants, as in the film, but, in principle, are capable of destroying the fate of creative people. At the same time, it is not a fact that they really understand the author’s intention: more often they see something that is not really there.

The next character is Tyler Ledford. He is a foodie (from the English word “food” – food), a person for whom food is more than satisfying physiological needs. He is obsessed with cooking and is even ready to die for the sake of getting to know his idol.

Tyler looks down on Margot. He makes remarks to her, condescendingly explains how the dishes are made. He is the only one who follows the instructions of the chef and even tries to evaluate the food during dramatic events.

The ending of Tyler’s story in “The Menu” is as ridiculous as he is: the chef still praises him, and then offers to demonstrate his skills. Ledford fails and shows that in reality he is not capable of anything in cooking. As a result, he commits suicide.

Chef Julian Slovik, who loved culinary excellence, becomes frustrated and loses interest in him after he has to work for people who cannot truly appreciate his talent. To punish them all, he devises a plan to transform himself, guests, and staff through death.

The plan destroys Margo: she was not on the list, and therefore the boss does not know what to do with her. He finds out that she is different from the rest of the guests and, like him, represents the service industry. This is the key to why he invites her to die with the staff and not with the clients.

The explanation for the movie’s ending The Menu is that Margo doesn’t fit into Slovik’s plan and he has no reason to kill her. She confuses his plans, he does not know what to do with her and talks about it repeatedly. When he makes a cheeseburger at her request, he briefly remembers what it’s like to cook with love and see how customers admire his work. So when Margo veiledly asks to let her go, he agrees because it will solve the problem with her and allow him to finish what he has planned.

restaurant guestsFrame from the film.

Similar films

  • Midsommar (USA, Sweden, 2019). Anthropology students attend an ancient Swedish festival and become victims of sinister rituals.
  • Triangle of Sadness (USA, Sweden, UK, 2022). Rich passengers of the liner as a result of unforeseen events find themselves on a wild island.
  • “Seven” (USA, 1995). A young cop and his veteran partner search for a killer who punishes his victims for their deadly sins.

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