Menu inspired by real-life restaurant meals, writer reveals
Menu screenwriter Will Tracy reveals how a true high-end restaurant experience inspired the idea for the new Ralph Fiennes thriller.
One of The Menu's writers described a real-life experience that helped him come up with the idea for the film. The film, which opens in theaters on November 18, 2022 and is now available on HBO Max, stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot, a young woman invited by Taylor (Nicholas Hoult) to a private Dine at one of the fine dining restaurants on the island. The restaurant is run by the reclusive chef Julian Solvik (Ralph Fiennes), known for his theatrical performances, which is why diners didn't notice tonight's dinner until it was too late. Possible violent nature.
Recently, Bon Appétit interviewed The Menu writer Will Tracy (of the hit HBO series The Heirs) and his former The Onion colleague Seth Reiss. During the conversation, Tracy revealed that the movie was inspired by a real fancy restaurant he visited on a remote island in Norway. He described the experience of using food as a story as claustrophobic, saying customers were "held hostage" for hours. Read his full quote below:
[The restaurant was not Fäviken, but like Fäviken.] There’s something relentless about all of these tasting menus. You can’t leave. You’re being held hostage by a story which they’re telling for hours.
The Menu's Relationship To Food Culture Is A Big Part Of The Fun
At its core, The Menu's story is about the conflict between business and art. fiennes character is The fact that his art had become a product of high society, used as a status symbol rather than an expression of his purest self annoyed him, a feeling that can be seen in many other art forms. However, the fact that the film specifically addresses the world of food culture is important to its sense of humor and the way it builds fear in the audience.
Even if one has limited experience in fine dining restaurants, most people are familiar enough with the concept to realize the way portion sizes are just as long as the list of expensive ingredients. This sometimes deliberately distant presentation perfectly encapsulates the now-iconic line “we gel,” which Hong Chau utters in The Menu’s trailer. Margot's discomfort in this setting makes her an entry point for the audience, meaning that when she notices various unpleasant details during the meal, their anger rises along with hers .
The menu perfectly capitalizes on that sense of anachronism that restaurants of this type automatically evoke in people not used to them. However, It also draws humor from characters who feel very at home in Chef Julian's restaurant, showing the way they can sometimes go to great lengths to artistically prove things they don't fully understand. By the end of the film, Tracy and Rice have been able to weave many different elements of this culture into a slow-cooked thriller that's already earning two Golden Globe nominations.
More: Anya Taylor-Joy's off-script menu scene solves an old movie problem