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Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones star in this refreshing modern-day dating fable with a very creepy (and scrumptious!!!) genre twist - from the Sundance Film Festival

This is a film a hard to review without going into some plot details, so if you want the best experience of this film… stop reading now.

Fresh begins as very much a nice, quirky romcom focused on Nora (Edgar-Jones), a woman in her early 20s. Sher is on a date from hell at a Chinese restaurant with a very awkward man. She is getting unsolicited dick pics on the film’s stand-in for Tinder. But one day in the fresh produce aisle of the supermarket, she meets Steve (Stan). He seems like a charming guy who listens as much as he talks. They end up going on a weekend away together. Everything seems normal, but it isn’t.

Just 37 minutes in, the audience, like the character, has the rug completely pulled out from under them. Not to spoil the film, Steve is involved with the meat industry in some capacity. Soon enough Nora is trapped and has to find a way out of her situation. Her friend Molly (Jojo T Gibbs) is concerned by Nora’s sudden lack of a social media presence, so tries to track her down. it’s the 2020s: if you aren’t posting non-stop on whatever platform you use, it’s evidence something is astray.

The two performances are great: Sebastian Stan taps into the almost Ted Bundy-esque charm of Steve (he would’ve killed as Bundy, pun intended) and gives a career-best performance. Daisy Edgar-Jones is just right as his match, and creates a complex and multilayered woman. There are bound to be some comparisons to Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2021), and Fresh feels very much like its equivalent at Sundance this year. But thankfully, whilst it has social commentary, Fresh never feels the need to bludgeon the audience to death with a MyPillow. Thankfully, it also never feels like it’s above its genre, and is pretty unapologetic with the gore.

Fresh is one of the stand-outs of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and despite a somewhat clumsy climax that puts one or two steps wrong, it ends up being a very satisfying dish. If you liked Audition. (Takashi Miike, 1999), this is probably as close as an American film will get to that cinematic switcheroo. It marks a strong debut from a new talent who hopefully won’t be plucked out of the 2022 Sundance class to make the latest Marvel movie, but instead actually gets to make original projects.

Fresh has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

By Ian Schultz - 26-01-2022

Ian Schultz is a film writer based in Leeds, where he runs Psychotronic Cinema. He has been writing about films for about eight years, with articles and reviews appearing in Little White Lies and Live...

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