As the night progresses, Slowik comes to the realization that he’s become stagnant in his work. He’s racked up so many accolades throughout his career, but it doesn’t matter. The longer he’s stayed complacent in the workforce that has built his legacy, the more he’s become susceptible to its toxicity, whether it be workplace harassment, class displacement in his kitchen, or worse yet, the loss of his love for cooking.
The first time you watch “The Menu,” you’re with the diners, who are trying to figure out what the hell is going on. But on a subsequent viewing, once you know Slowik’s plan, the film’s perspective takes on an entirely different meaning. What starts as a one-location horror stage show becomes a sad lament configuration of a man whose industry has simply broken him. He recognizes his faults and privilege in cooking for rich losers all these years and decides to violently correct the course of the ship he’s been sailing.
As Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) notes, when the dishes arrive at the table, they’re lifeless and largely unappealing. They favor exhibition over anything else, but it makes sense with the lesson Slowik is imparting to his unfortunate guests. Fiennes and Joy are the film’s most compelling performances because these characters see right through one another. He sees a discreet escort worker at the mercy of a pathetic foody fanboy, which makes the stoic Chef feel concerned about her being there.
Slowik seems intent on taking her out with the rest of the trash, that is, until Margot requests a special order that not only reveals an enlightening truth, but also shows great consideration for food service workers.