B-eat the rich: a movie trend
B-eat the rich: a movie trend
Imagine this. You go to a restaurant. Order your favourite dish and wait. After much anticipation, it is finally served. But wait! You can't eat it. Not yet. The head chef makes an entrance and asks you to stop! "Don't eat. Taste, relish, savour every morsel in front of you. But do not just eat". Surreal right? Also, a tad bit confusing. This is a defining moment from the movie The Menu which is one of the newer movies that fit the 'eat the rich' trend. And it is one that takes this concept very literally.
The story revolves around a young couple who travels to a distant island to dine at an upscale restaurant. Although the head chef approaches food with both an artistic and scientific approach, his dishes take a frightening turn, much to the surprise of his affluent customers. It starts with a group of rich people getting ready to board a ship and enjoy an uber-expensive 'dining experience'. The patrons are a good mix of young money and old, of self-made and privileged, of the proud and the obnoxious. However, they all have one thing in common apart from their bulging bank accounts. And that one thing is what ties this entire story together. The film is a dark comedy. You might feel bad for laughing at certain instances and that is the success of the film. It is a story of revenge, a story of passion, a story of communal trauma. It might not be relatable in terms of how the central theme plays out through the perspective of the food industry. But the theme in itself is largely relevant especially post-pandemic. Without giving out too many spoilers, the movie is a visual treat. It is a rollercoaster with highs and lows but at the end, you'll be left asking yourself, "What the hell did I just watch?" in a good way.
Another movie that begins with a ship and ends in an ironic turn of the tides is the Triangle of Sadness directed by the Swedish filmmaker, Ruben Östlund. As you can guess he is best known for handling black comedic and mocking themes. Carl and Yaya, two influencers, are invited to a luxury cruise ship with a group of wealthy people who are out of touch with reality. When a terrible storm hits the ship, the situation changes in an unforeseen way. Triangle of Sadness is a scathing satirical attack on the excesses of beauty and riches, using the 1% ultra-rich wealth hoarders and beauty influencers as a case study. It turns the class divide on its head, showcasing what happens when the rich lose their material advantages and have to survive in the wild per se. The imagery of the film is very stark, direct and at times plain disgusting. But all of that is necessary and does well to drive the point home. A little on the nose with metaphors, and a slow pace but more direct than The Menu, it for sure is a piece of art. Where The Menu is art that you can view in a modern gallery, the Triangle of Sadness is more of a stunning piece of graffiti revolting against the rich.
The third and final movie on the list is also the oldest. The American neo-noir, crime comedy Knives Out by Rian Johnson. The well-known crime writer Harlan Thrombey is discovered dead during his 85th birthday celebrations. However, as investigator Benoit Blanc examines the case, a terrible plot emerges. In Knives Out nothing is as it seems. Every right is wrong, every loss is a win, and every obstacle is an opportunity. The more straightforward the film seems to you, the bigger the shock value you will receive with the climax. It is one of those films that leave just enough open to interpretation. It doesn't take its audiences for fools which I think is the mark of a good crime-solving type film. While the political fighting in Knives Out may seem current, the struggle shown in the film is historical. The movie is in equal parts an entertaining murder mystery to watch on a family night and a social commentary on capitalist families and the concept of generational wealth. Out of the many anti-capitalist movies in the past couple of years, Knives Out would win the award for being the most accessible and commercial.
As Millennials and Gen-Z increasingly become the target audience for theatres, the 'Eat the rich' trend will only see an upsurge. Unlike before, the privileged are now seen as the villains. As the wage gaps keep increasing, the middle class shrinks, and the cost of living goes up, hatred for the affluent will be evident in all media. The wealthy are no longer the aspirational idols of our fantasies. In this economy, they are the antagonists in our lives and media alike. During this year, directors and writers will celebrate social realism, which is the prime tale of our times.