FRESH is absolutely feral with its delightfully disturbing tale of lurid romance. Mimi Cave’s feature directorial debut doesn’t disappoint, and Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones are bloody tantalizing in this fervent thriller that is sure to be an instant cult classic.
FRESH Movie Review 2022
Meredith Gray’s “dark and twisty” has nothing on FRESH
FRESH leads in like your typical rom-com at the start. Swipe right only to end up on yet another monotonous date with an incredibly self-centered wannabe hipster. If you’re lucky, he only makes you pay for your half of the meal.
Somehow the distinctively pretty yet slightly awkward single Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) ends up shopping for groceries when devilishly handsome Steve (Sebastian Stan) comes at her with a pick-up line about cotton candy-flavored grapes (just when we thought we’d heard them all) in the produce aisle and an exchange of phone numbers.
If the grapes seemed like a mythological reference foreshadowing for some blood-related act to come, you’re not wrong. Noa and Steve have a first date of drinks at the bar followed by a steamier night of not-so-casual sex that leads to another rendezvous and Steve’s suggestion of a surprise getaway weekend to a stunning secluded house. Oh, the red flags are everywhere, Noa.
After she’s previously told her best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s done with the dating scene (Can you blame her? Swiping right is tiresome), she now has to backtrack and tell Mollie about hot-grocery-store-good-in-bed Steve. Mollie is not impressed with the idea of a surprise unknown vacation weekend and alludes to the fact this is how nice young women disappear.
Despite Mollie’s disapproval, Noa goes with Steve. Unsurprisingly, this remote house has terrible cell service, the wifi is out, and all of a sudden Noa is completely disconnected from everything. Who needs service when you have Steve and nice Manhattan with lots of cherries, right? The red flags don’t wave any faster or higher than this.
Steve tells her he’s added something to her cocktail and wants her to try to identify the taste. She goes through a few before she settles on nectarine…as her vision blurs, the camera blurs everything as it spins and Noa falls to the ground. Hard.
And the opening credits start at 25 minutes into the film!!
What did we just watch?!
Intoxicating Thriller in 3…2…1…
The second act is a completely different film than the first. The first part leaves the audience teetering on the edge of, “What genre is this movie?” but by the time you come back after the opening credits, there is not a shadow of a doubt that this is the disturbingly grotesque film you were anticipating.
Much of the reason FRESH is so inveigling is due to the magical combination of Director Mimi Cave and Writer Lauryn Kahn. Cave brilliantly brought Kahn’s script to life visually. Her direction for this film was savvy and sharp, and delivered in a way that sets her apart as a filmmaker—and given this is her directorial debut, we should expect to see great things in the future from Cave.
Warm, red tones effuse the feeling of blood in the second and third acts of FRESH in a way that isn’t overdone yet still resonates with the viewer. Kahn’s writing is quick-witted yet somber in moments that hit with realism.
“Come on, give me a smile.”
That third act, though.
If you can stomach the pieces that you need to in order to get to the redemption, the seduction of the abuser element reminiscent of Promising Young Women will blow you away.
Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve after a produce-section meet-cute at the grocery store. During a subsequent date at a local bar, sassy banter gives way to a chemistry-laden hookup, and a smitten Noa dares to hope that she might have actually found a real connection with the dashing cosmetic surgeon. She accepts Steve’s invitation to an impromptu weekend getaway, only to find that her new paramour has been hiding some unusual appetites.
FRESH is an intoxicating ride, nesting a penetrating thriller about the perils women face on the modern dating scene within a ferocious allegory for the commodification of their bodies. Director Mimi Cave’s feature debut brings Lauryn Kahn’s shrewd, witty script to the screen with a knowing zeal, deploying a soundtrack of retro deep-cut bangers to highlight the film’s over-the-top verve. Daisy Edgar-Jones captivates as Noa, who defiantly turns her vulnerabilities into strengths, while Sebastian Stan delivers a deliciously wicked performance as the roguish Steve.
About Director Mimi Cave
Mimi Cave was born in Chicago and began her career behind the camera creating music videos for artists such as Sleigh Bells and Vance Joy. From there, she moved on to short films, which earned her critical acclaim at festivals worldwide, most recently with I’m Happy, I Promise, a selection of SXSW in 2020. FRESH is her first feature.
Rating: R (Contains depictions of violence and gore, strong and disturbing violent content, some bloody images, language throughout, some sexual content, and brief graphic nudity)
Runtime: 114 min
Director: Mimi Cave
Screenwriter: Lauryn Kahn
Producer: Adam McKay, Kevin Messick, Maeve Cullinane
Executive Producers: Lauryn Kahn, Ron Mcleod
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi
FRESH premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 21 and will release on Hulu March 4.
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