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Flux Gourmet ★★★★



Director: Peter Strickland

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Gwendoline Christie, Ariane Labed, Fatma Mohamed, Makis Papadimitriou

Release: September 30th, 2022 (UK)

Peter Strickland is easily one of the finest British filmmakers in the world right now. He tantalises and provokes the senses like no other. The man behind In Fabric, The Duke of Burgundy and Berberian Sound Studio, has a unique style that transcends any film movement or genre; when you see a Strickland, you know it’s a Strickland. Now on his fifth feature film, Flux Gourmet, he attempts to poke and prod cinemas in a way only he can execute.

Welcome to the Sonic Catering Institute, a creative retreat for artists whose work is somewhere between avant-garde music and outré cuisine. Run by the eccentric Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie), the three-week workshop plays host to a three-piece outfit comprising the severe and unbending Elle di Elle (Fatma Mohamed), the troubled Lamina Propria (Ariane Labed) and Jan’s soon-to-be lover Billy Rubin (Asa Butterfield). Their journey at the institute is documented by photographer Stones (Makis Papadimitriou), whose digestive troubles are as turbulent as the creations his subjects are producing. But relations between the bandmembers are deteriorating quicker than the concoctions they conjure up, their host’s psyche is unravelling, and the in-house doctor’s obsession with classical texts is driving everyone to distraction.

Peter Strickland delivers yet another masterwork of cinema and continues to shine as one of the most daringly unique filmmakers in the world. He gazes his critical eye on art with great satire, but his thoughts on art are open to interpretation. Flux Gourmet is a banquet of darkly hilarious oddities. As you dissect the narrative and indulge in the rich aesthetic of this immersive experience, you reflect on what Strickland is trying to say. This irresistible food for thought makes it even more of a sensual experience that is elevated with sound and food. Within our society, we are overloaded with art, music, film, literature and content. As we witness the performance art process, you can sense Strickland highlighting this within his storytelling.

The pacing is quite turbulent and highly entertaining, contained in vignettes. You don’t necessarily know what will happen next, but that’s the joy of Flux Gourmet. Exploring this world through Makis Papadimitriou’s character gradually helps us understand what is going on, but the creative process isn’t always one we will fully understand. Each character has their issues and creative path, and this implosion we are witnessing seems to be getting the best out of them. Each performance grows and develops into something wilder every time. Strickland’s vision boils into something beautifully grotesque, and if you can stomach it, you will be engorged even more by the end.

Fatma Mohamed is a Strickland regular, but she doesn’t always have her time to shine until now. Elle di Elle is front and centre here, and Fatma relishes every scene. Of any actor that has worked with Strickland, she is the one that understands him the most. Her expressiveness and presence make a difference, along with her frustrations as an artist. It’s a pleasure to see Asa Butterfield take a chance working with an auteur like Strickland. The geeky, sexually frustrated lad from Sex Education can’t be felt, and here you feel the angst of Billy Rubin. Ariane Labed and Makis Papadimitriou bring so much to the table too. Their past filmographies are a testament to why they have featured in a Peter Strickland film, and they further help the cause of the film.

Flux Gourmet is a shining example of why we need more voices like Peter Strickland in cinema. The sheer inventiveness of his mind has conjured one of the best pieces of the original film in 2022. As you chew through the fat of it all, you soon discover that art isn’t all it seems.

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