Off-putting it may be, there’s enough deliciousness throughout the wicked Fresh that your pallet is sure to be satisfied in spite of the cannibalistic practices laid forth.
An initial romantic dramedy, director Mimi Cave sets up the dating scene with all the discouragement you’d expect, with Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) endlessly swiping through her Tinder-esque apps, going on unenthusiastic dates that screenwriter Lauryn Kahn highlights with not-so-subtle commentary on the toxic masculinity and fragile-ego driven mentality that oft plagues the dating world.
Noa is agreeable – perhaps too much so – and it isn’t until she meets the charming, if a little awkward, Steve (Sebastian Stan, all charm, no awkwardness) in a meet-cute grocery store setting that she feels comfortable enough to throw caution to the wind and date him, a practice she admits to hating.
The natural chemistry between Stan and Edgar-Jones is palpable, the two utterly selling the lust-at-first-sight temperament Steve and Noa indulge in, leading us to immediately care about their paring, something that we sense will be threatened throughout.
It’s around the 38 minute mark that Cave boldly unveils the film’s title and credits, revealed to us at a moment when Fresh‘s warm, if slightly off-kilter personality dramatically shifts. Just what exactly it shifts towards is best left discovered by the viewer, but a strong stomach is perhaps the best plan of attack for a film that manages to project a sense of humour throughout its unnerving, churning narrative.
A film like Fresh, one that is at once a drama, a comedy, a romance, and a horror film, is the type of ambitious genre-bending effort that lives and dies off its maker’s balance and its willing cast, and Cave, Stan and Edgar-Jones consistently deliver the bloody goods when pressed. It’s tonal skewering may mean this isn’t to everyone’s taste (pun intended), but those who enjoy indulging in material they know is bad for them to do so should lap up this captivating piece worth swiping right for.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Fresh is screening as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is being presented virtually between January 20th and 30th, 2022. For more information head to the official Sundance page. Fresh has been acquired for an American release, streaming on Hulu from March 4th, 2022.