DIRECTOR: Mimi Cave

CAST: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier

RUNNING TIME: 114 mins

CERTIFICATE: 18

BASICALLY…: A young woman (Edgar-Jones) learns a disturbing secret about her new boyfriend (Stan)…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Even though I’m a little late to the party with this one (it’s been a week since the movie debuted on Disney+ Star, but real-world commitments have prevented me from looking at it until now), Fresh is an absolutely bonkers ride. Darkly funny, suspenseful, gory, and even a touch romantic all in one go, director Mimi Cave’s feature debut – which understandably shook up Sundance audiences back in January – is an eye-widening satire that will repulse and fascinate you in equal measure.

But you wouldn’t exactly know it from the first thirty minutes of the movie. Although it begins as Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is on the latest in a long line of unappealing dates – her current companion is exactly the kind of smug, pretentious misogynist “nice-guy” who more than likely tweets horrible things about Brie Larson in his spare time – she soon comes across the charming Steve (Sebastian Stan) at the supermarket, and soon enough the two of them are entwined in a whirlwind romance. Then, Steven invites Noa to a private getaway somewhere in the distant countryside and… well, let’s just say that things take quite the hard turn.

Like most reviewers of Fresh, I will do my utmost to not give away any specifics as to what happens next, but rest assured it’s far from the sweet, endearing romantic-comedy that it started out as. Parts of it, in fact, may make you sick to your stomach, so maybe try and avoid watching this after, or whilst, eating whatever snacks you have at home. It wears the shock factor like a badge, something which feels apt given that Adam McKay, a filmmaker who in recent years has developed an appetite for socially-aware satires, is credited as a producer on this film. However, he doesn’t get in the way of director Cave and writer Lauryn Kahn telling the genre-bending story that they want to in the way that they are clearly enjoying telling it in, with enough social commentary on misogyny and male entitlement that, at times, makes Promising Young Woman look like the 2019 Black Christmas remake.

However, while the film is a hoot for its unexpected turns, not to mention two very able central performances by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan – the latter playing his part as though Christian Grey actually did give in to much darker urges – it’s not quite as profound or even as intelligent as Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-winner. Once the other shoe drops and we are introduced to the film’s much darker and uglier side, almost all subtlety is dropped and subtext becomes more of an afterthought when talking directly about its themes. You do very quickly see through a lot of the dialogue, direction and even parts of the cinematography which does its best to disguise its commentary, but still cannot quite shake the glaring obviousness of what it’s trying to say about the way society views and treats women. At no point is it badly delivered, for both Cave and Kahn bring fierce energy to their film that makes it disturbing to watch and darkly funny when it needs to be, but the lack of subtlety leaves little to the imagination, and so you do pine for movies that took a slightly more sophisticated and – dare I say it – unpredictable approach like Fennell did with Promising Young Woman.

I do feel bad that I can’t get into much else with Fresh, because it’s one of those movies where you just need to watch it for yourself in order to learn more about its many dark secrets. The film is good, thankfully, even though it might not approach its themes in as careful a way as you might hope, and as long as you’re not operating on a full stomach you might find yourself becoming fascinated with its delicious twists and turns.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Fresh is a darkly funny and disturbing satire, for reasons not gotten into here due to spoilers, but there’s plenty to dissect from this entertaining genre-bender, even if it often lacks the subtlety which might have given it a sharper taste.

Fresh is now available to stream on Disney+ Star

Did you like this review? Want to know when the next one comes out?

Sign up to our e-mail service today, and get our latest reviews and previews sent straight to your inbox!