Review by Sean Boelman
Peter Strickland is one of the most fascinating genre directors working today, making films that are bizarre and unorthodox yet still comfortably familiar in how they pay homage to the genre. However, Flux Gourmet is arguably his most out-there movie yet — a pitch-black comedy that swings for the fences — and while it might not be a home run, it's certainly an impressive turn at bat.
The film follows a collective of unorthodox performance artists who make music through culinary means as they get entangled in scandalous affairs while in residence at a bizarre culinary institute. Imagine something akin to a boarding school melodrama, but with a bit of a horror-comedy tinge, and that is the essence of what Strickland’s script has to offer.
And yet, even by Strickland’s standards, the movie does go a bit off the deep end. At first, the film seems like a two-hour fart joke. And while that’s certainly absurd, fans of Strickland will know there is more going on here. He lampoons high society in a way that only he would (and perhaps, only he could) — by juxtaposing it against lowbrow humor.
But that is the point here, after all. Strickland wants us to laugh at the absurdity and the ridiculousness of high society, but in a way that makes us feel really uncomfortable and introspective. And as always, he really reinforces this unnerving feeling in the final act, culminating in a last image that will stick with you long after the credits roll.
Strickland does a great job of giving the audience very mixed feelings about these characters. On one hand, they are really pompous and ridiculous, but then their humanity shines through and we can’t really hate them. It’s this moral ambiguity that radiates throughout the film and really allows it to thrive.
Asa Butterfield is the highest-profile actor in the movie, but he is playing a really restrained role here. It’s still a character that is very awkward like his usual type, but not in the same way. The surprising standout here is Makis Papadimitriou, who is both hilarious and endearing as the film’s narrator and observational protagonist.
It is on a technical level that Strickland’s movie is such a marvel, but that is always the case with his work. The film is very experimental with sound, which is fitting for a movie about a group of experimental sound musicians. But even visually, the film is downright fantastic, with a use of color that is at once aesthetically appealing and tremendously unsettling.
Flux Gourmet is a very funny dark comedy, but only if you are attuned to Peter Strickland’s unique sense of humor. Some are going to be quick to dismiss this as weird and random, whereas its target audience will latch onto those things and love the movie for it.
Flux Gourmet hits theaters and VOD on June 24.