The Menu: Where Do Dreams Go When They Die?
I don't typically make new year resolutions, or really ever set goals that I tell myself I have to have achieved by the end of the year. I prefer to see a new year as an opportunity to build on previous years or to start new things that will continue over multiple years, however long that might take.
But the truth is, I also get overwhelmed with goals because I think "what if I don't meet them?" and then do nothing. And this inevitably goes into everything, "what if no one wants to hear what I have to say?" "what if I'm not actually good at that?" "what if I can't get this made?" I've never seen myself as a go-getter, which I've struggled with in adulthood because it seems to me that being able to chase after goals is what helps us stand on our feet; and for creative people, being able to create is what fuels us.
But what does creativity look like?
When I was a kid, I had this fear that God would take away my talents if I wasn't "using" them. So I liked to sing, but was too shy to ever sing in public and would worry that one day I'd wake up in an Ariel on land situation (that's a Little Mermaid reference: she loses her voice); or, I liked to write but was only ever writing in my notebooks and worried that I would never be able to think of a story ever again. And even though I wasn't much of a 'go-getter,' my perceived complacency with my life still made me uneasy.
For me, I wasn't being creative if I didn't have an audience.
I said all that because The Menu basically came to me and said, "girl, that doesn't even matter that much" (among other things). *Mild spoilers ahead*
A quick summary of the film is that a young woman named Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) is taken on a date to a fancy restaurant on a private island run by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) by a guy named Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) who worships the ground Chef Slowik walks on. There are other people there: a food critic, an actor, some tech bros, and a very obviously unhappy couple, and we see that Slowik had a lot more planned than just food for their evening. **Side note, I was outside the theatre where this movie was showing at TIFF waiting for another movie, and these people had a food truck waiting outside for the audience when they were done, so talk about an experience.**
The Menu does a lot and was very much giving "eat the rich," but I can't tell you how much I love Ralph Fiennes' quite literally done with life, jaded but simultaneously boyishly sad, Chef Slowik. He started cooking because he loved it and finally 'made it big', but with that came all the mouths he tried to keep happy until he realised he didn't like cooking anymore. An artist's worst nightmare. And then, there's the sous-chef who knows he's good but doesn't think he will never quite make it to great (who, in his eyes, is Slowik); and a very obnoxious clientele that includes Tyler who is basically that one fan that makes it their mission to make sure you know how dumb you are for not being as knowledgeable a fan as they are. Obviously, Slowik is a *little* extreme in his reaction, but if I was faced with all this? Yeah, I'd pack it up.
But let's be for real, would I? Because these bills need to get paid somehow. And that's part of the adult struggle, I'm finding. I was going to start this paragraph with something like "make sure you love what you do" which, if you can, of course. But if you're in a situation where you're like bro, this is just my job, then I'd like you to join me in making sure you're at least doing something you love. I've realised that having something to look forward to really makes a difference. And if the stuff getting in your way includes someone else being your measure of greatness, someone else questioning your abilities, or your own worries that no one will like what you do, then maybe you should forget the audience and just see what happens.
I like that as a new year's resolution:
Forget the audience and see what happens.
The Menu is now streaming on Disney+