Fresh arrives on Disney + on March 18th.
People were naturally excited to hear that a rom-com starring Marvel’s Sebastian Stan and Normal People’s Daisy Edgar Jones was to premiere at Sundance, a potential meet-cute for the ages. However, what director Mimi Cave had in store for viewers was less a meet-cute and more meat-cute. Noa (Edgar-Jones) is tired of the dating scene, as her Tinder is flooded with random fuckboys. But just when all hope seems lost, she meets Sebastian Stan’s Steve, a charming doctor with a penchant for eye-rolling but cute humorous quips. However, Noa’s friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) is more than a bit suspicious of Steve’s non-existent digital footprint, as she expresses her feelings that this man “is way too good to be true,” and maybe, he is.
Fresh plays out with a sly wink as screenwriter Lauryn Kahn’s playful, tongue-in-cheek story explores the pitfalls of online dating and the systemic rot of misogyny. Cave plays her cannibalistic cards close to her chest, seducing us just like Steve lures Noa into a false sense of security. It’s telling that Mollie is innately suspicious of this upstanding, gentlemanly doctor while, in contrast, Noa falls head-over-heels for his perfect façade. As we build to the crescendo, the film drops its sharpened blade and cuts the bullshit, bringing us the opening titles a good 20 minutes after the journey has begun. It is an exquisite reveal as Mimi Cave delivers a sharp slap that wakes you up and makes you realise, “Oh, Fresh has only just begun“. Everything before this was a complete ruse,’ and from here, Cave fully leans into the deranged madness as Sebastian Stan delivers one of his craziest performances to date – his bulging eyes constantly assessing Noa like a butcher assessing a pig, as he oozes sex appeal.
A myriad of influences can be seen in Steve’s persona and style, from the disarmingly charming oeuvre of Mikkelsen and Hopkins Hannibal to real-life munchers like Armin Meiwes. In the Machiavellian mind games Stan plays, he leans fully into the devilishly diabolical doctor’s dark and deranged sociopathic persona. Equally impressive is the manner in which Fresh approaches the objectification and commodification of women, allowing for a palpable dread and disgust at the system Steve operates within. Some may baulk at the idea, but it’s not far from the real-life modern slave trade that runs under the surface of our major cities and towns. All Lauryn Kahn and Mimi Cave have done is take the endemic of misogyny and push it an inch or two further.
Given Cave’s background in music direction, Fresh is coated in a most delicious style. Its soundtrack produces banger-after-banger, weaving Blood Orange with Karen O, Lady Wray and Duran Duran in building a delicious yet deadly musical recipe. A potent visual dynamism also originates from the marriage of Cave’s music video background and Pawel Pogorzelski’s exceptional cinematography through Carpenter-Esque deep focuses and trippy chromatic aberrations. As a result, Mimi Cave’s beautifully twisted treat leaves you hungry for more as Edgar-Jones further cements her rising star power while Stan chews on his role, savouring every bite. It’s always tricky to build on the monstrous nature of cannibals, but Cave adds a deliciously juicy spin on a classic dish – its prime rib horror.
BONES AND ALL
Mimi Cave’s beautifully twisted treat leaves you hungry for more. Here Edgar-Jones further cements her rising star power while Stan chews on his role, savouring every bite.