Cert – Recommended 18+, Run-time – 1 hour 53 minutes, Director – Mimi Cave
After a series of bad dates, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) strikes up an intimate relationship with doctor Steve (Sebastian Stan). However, it’s not long until she discovers his hidden cannibalistic attitudes.
Just before its awards success truly started to take off Twitter decided, for a brief while, that the thing Drive My Car should really be celebrated for was the fact that its opening credits didn’t arrive until 42 minutes in. Well, with a run-time just over an hour shorter than Drive My Car, Mimi Cave’s feature directorial debut, Fresh, introduces its opening credits 33 minutes in. Just as the tone snaps into something more sinister and central figure Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) discovers some dark truths about her potential partner Steve (Sebastian Stan). Everything they’ve built-up over the somewhat quick development of their relationship in these first stages is shattered as it turns out that doctor Steve’s charismatic exterior lies on-top of cannibalistic attitudes and behaviours. Otherwise known as, he likes to eat human.
There’s no denying that Stan appears to be having a good time playing a slightly-knowing, not-quite-dead-pan villain. Enjoying a number of dance-like moments as he shares his palate-related tastes with various high-class figures who can afford the steep cost of properly prepared human flesh. There’s very much a sinister nature carried around the character with the casual way in which he discusses his life and tastes, which come as a fearful shock to Edgar-Jones’ Noa. While Stan is certainly the support when it comes to this film he’s often placed in focus as Noa’s circumstances, gradually learning more about the man she has become intimate with, somewhat restrict her at various points throughout the film. While there’s certainly a good performance put into the character it does feel somewhat reined in by the situation and focus on Steve and the impact that he has more than anything else.
Much of the events of the remaining 80 or so minutes after the opening credits are carried along in a similar style to those beforehand, although undeniably with a general change in tone. This well-captured by Cave’s direction as the film meanders relatively well through its various elements, introducing one or two more along the way to bring out some of the intended suspense and mystery. While this does end up extending the final stages a bit, feeling drawn out in trying to bring back and resolve such points which are referenced every now and then for what feels like a simple reminder for the viewer. While such points don’t quite feel inserted to simply push the run-time they do eventually end up circling to that feeling in the latter stages of the third act.
Yet, there’s still plenty to be interested and engaged in over the course of the film, particularly when it comes to what we learn about Steve, and how Noa reacts to her situation and their relationship. It’s undeniably the strongest part of the film and while it occasionally stalls to make way for other points its soon drawn back to and knows what to do to generally keep you in place, helped along by the two central performances and Cave’s direction. It may not always feel entirely like its title, but there’s certainly enough within such factors to keep the film going and the viewer interested for the time its on.
While not always focusing on its best elements, within the relationship between Stan and Edgar-Jones’ characters, there’s a well caught sinister air within Fresh which helps it along its sometimes meandering course.