Even a day after I’ve seen it, I can’t tell if I like this film, or if I really recommend this film widely, or what I really thought of this film. So, I guess, a typical Peter Strickland film.
Flux Gourmet, written and directed by Strickland, follows a collective of ‘sonic caterers’ – musicians who extract obscene and extreme sounds from food/cooking/eating – as they take up an artistic residency at an estate. Creative differences, power struggles and infighting commence, all documented by a semi-unwilling writer who is struggling with gastrointestinal problems.
The thing about this film is that if you took out the sonic catering it could be about any type of artistic collective, but what’s entertaining about this is that the film immersively leans into its own world-building, outright saying that sonic caterers are so common that they command audiences so fervent that they inspire literal post-show orgies.
Much of the rest of the hook felt like it was just riffing on the inherent pretentiousness of some within artistic circles, which rang, ironically, a bit shallow in itself. This made the proceedings feel a bit one-note and I noticed the pace starting to drag. I sensed a disconnect between the fact that everyone on screen was taking their role far too seriously and yet we’re supposed to be laughing at them – but only laughing at them – and not really caring about what happens to them.
It being a Strickland piece, there is much in the way of retro aesthetic, with its giallo-y visuals and dreamy folky music, but it’s little more than window-dressing as we kind of pirouette the plot along. Mesmeric in performance are both Fatma Mohamed and Ariane Labed as Elle and Lamina, respectively; they’re both so compelling it’s impossible to look away when they are speaking.
As far as Strickland’s films go, I preferred In Fabric because it seemed like a more cohesive vision, and Berberian Sound Studio gradually drip-fed us its own unique brand of disquieting madness. This being a black comedy I expected less horror, but much of the film is socially tense enough to qualify, including one gag-inducing scene in particular. Sadly, not entirely to my taste.