Director Mark Mylod
Written by Seth Reiss, Will Tracy
Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Paul Adelstein, John Leguizamo, Aimee Carrero, Reed Birney, Judith Light, Arturo Castro, Rob Yang, Mark St Cyr, Rebecca Koon, Peter Grosz, Christia Brucato
As this is my first review of a film that I have just seen at the cinema, and therefore do not have access it in front of me, I may go back to re-review it another time – but for now I will do my best to review this from my solo view.
Young couple Margot, and Tyler (Taylor-Joy, Hoult) head to a small island to dine at the exclusive restaurant ‘Hawthorne’, run by eccentric Chef Julian Slowik (Fiennes). Along with ten others, including Slowik’s mother they are treated to several courses over the evening. Each course becomes more exquisite, and homage to Chef’s past. Chef soon also reveals the true reason for each of his guests being there, and his plan for them. All except Margot, who was not supposed to be dining there that evening.
One thing I quite enjoyed about the film was the pacing. The film had barely begun before the guests had sat down to their first course. Fiennes iconic Chef is introduced not long after. It isn’t long that Margot begins to feel uneasy about Chef, in his mannerisms – especially the way he gets the attention of his guests (CLAP) and her annoyance at her dining partners god like worship of him.
The setting, which primarily is one location – the restaurant – is lovely. It is set as almost flawless, which is polar opposite of what the characters experience throughout the duration of the film. The restaurant itself can be argued to be a character itself, it is an austere place almost military led by the demanding Chef, who is both loved, and loves his team. The team even have their own military type barracks and bedding where they sleep. Being on an island far from land only adds to the unease the restaurant has, and that the characters feel throughout.
The cast do a great job, although some of the supporting cast are underused. The script had too many secondary characters that it knew what to do with, so some of them felt underused. This was simply a brilliant performance by Fiennes and Taylor-Joy. For me however the MVP of this film goes to Chau as the maître’ d Elsa, who commands every scene she is in.
The score by Colin Stetson should be commended as it is an eerie presence throughout, and shines through in several of the cooking scenes. His score also complements the mood of the characters on screen in several scenes – such as the prologue when the characters are getting onto the boat, and when one character is cooking a cheeseburger.
The script also did well to add humour in certain parts, and I did find myself chuckling a few times throughout the run. I also enjoyed the title cards that popped up on the screen to announce each course. At times they were quite pertinent to what had happened on screen, and added to the humour.
I was torn with the climax, as I was hoping it would go another way. I also found it hard to resonate as it felt a little ‘American’ with s’mores being the central theme. Being Australian, this is not something that is in our culture.
I strongly recommend this film, and hope it gets some recognition at the Academy Awards next year, especially for both Stetson’s score, and the amazing performance by Chau!