In this section of the Colossus Movie Guide for The Menu, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Julian Slowik – Ralph Fiennes
- Margot Mills / Erin – Anya Taylor-Joy
- Tyler – Nicholas Hoult
- Elsa – Hong Chau
- George Diaz – John Leguizamo
- Felicity – Aimee Carrero
- Lillian Bloom – Janet McTeer
- Ted – Paul Adelstein
- Anne Liebbrandt – Judith Light
- Richard Liebbrandt – Reed Birney
- Bryce – Rob Yang
- Dave – Mark St. Cyr
- Soren – Arturo Castro
- Writers – Seth Reiss, Will Tracy
- Director – Mark Mylod
Margot challenges Slowik, and challenges him to cook her a cheeseburger. He does and she agrees to pay $9.95 for the burger. After a single bite, she says she’d like to take it to go. Slowik acquiesces and Margot leaves Hawthorne, hurries to a boat, and departs the island.
Everyone else remains in the restaurant, resigned to whatever fate Slowik has in store for them. It turns out he has chosen to turn the entire restaurant and everyone in it into a s’more. After a bit of preparation, like strapping marshmallows to everyone, Slowik takes a hot coal, walks to the center of the room, drops it, and the whole thing combusts. The customers burn. The staff burn. Slowik burns. Then the restaurant explodes.
Meanwhile, on the boat, on the way to shore, Margot eats her cheeseburger. She uses her copy of the menu to wipe her mouth.
The main emphasis here is the juxtaposition between Hawthorne’s $1250 meal and the $9.95 cheeseburger. Those who came for the meal all end up ablaze, while the one character who was “innocent” ends up escaping. The Menu is very critical of this upper echelon dining experience while idolizing the simplistic. Which you can read as a commentary on classism and elitism and even intellectualism. When things become so rarefied, they lose their purity. And the people who experience these things are often no different, as their wealth robs them of their passion.
Each of the diners at Hawthorne, aside from Margot, is broken in some way. And it keeps them from really enjoying what they’re eating. The Liebbrandt’s drift through their days after the loss of their daughter. George Diaz is a popular actor who decided to cash in rather than maintain his craft. Lilian Bloom is a food critic become so pretentious she’s more of a caricature than an actual person. Tyler’s morality is completely broken and he brought nothing to the table. The business bros are crooks. They’ve all lost touch. And it keeps them from fighting for their lives. They don’t even have the passion to do that. So they sit idly by while being turned into s’mores.
And Slowik does give a speech where he connects the s’more to childhood. And talks about purification through fire. Cleansing through fire. So there’s a thematic emphasis on returning to roots. To a more pure and innocent time where everyone is closer to their true, basic nature, before they’ve been twisted by success or tragedy. This links to the cheeseburger, as a younger Slowik worked at a burger joint. This was the chef before he was Chef. When cooking was fun and exciting and simple. Margot’s request takes him back to that time. Letting him experience that nostalgia is why he allows her to leave. Because he understands she’s not ruined the way the rest of the people there are.
The reason Margot wipes her mouth with the Hawthorne menu is to show the value of that meal. This thing that was so coveted by so many becomes a napkin. Little better than toilet paper. Which is really a statement on these rarefied things and the price put on them. Was the menu really worth it? Is the pursuit of such wealth really worth it? Or is true joy found somewhere else?
The Menu is pretty punk, even though it’s presented in an artsy way. It’s more satire of the highbrow, while still being a bit highbrow. And you maybe get the sense that Slowik’s damnation of the culinary industry is applicable to other things. Like the film industry. Or, say, the current economic divide in America. It challenges viewers to not become like the people at Hawthorne. To pursue your passions. And not lose your humanity. And to not covet “the menu”, both literally and figuratively. What’s being fed to you isn’t necessarily good for you.
Is there more to the ending that you think should be part of the Colossus Movie Guide for The Menu? Leave your thoughts below and we’ll consider adding them.