FLUX GOURMET

★★★★

A DELICIOUS MIX OF THE STRANGE AND HILARIOUS

MELBOURNE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
12th August 2022

Peter Strickland is weird.

His latest film 'Flux Gourmet' follows an unnamed experimental noise outfit, led by performance artist Elle di Elle (played by Fatma Mohamed, 'The Duke of Burgundy', 'The Field Guide to Evil'), egg-fetishing Billy Rubin (Asa Butterfield, 'Ender's Game'), and weary Lamina Propria (Ariane Labed, 'The Souvenir'), the recipients of an illustrious residency at the Sonic Catering Institute, run by eccentric benefactor Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie, 'The Personal History of David Copperfield'). Their every action is chronicled by a self-described "hack journalist" named Stones (Makis Papadimitriou) who has an embarrassing stomach issue and acts as a narrator (in subtitled Greek). The band goes through ups and downs familiar to many more traditional music biopics ("We hate each other, even though we do need each other," groans Lamina), but instead of an electric keyboard, they power up a blender; instead of writing a masterpiece of operatic rock, these "sonic caterers" turn a colonoscopy into performance art.

'FLUX GOURMET' TRAILER

The group's shows can range from enticing and romantically persuasive to downright bizarre. "Misunderstanding between us is probably the key to our sound," Billy tells Stones. Naturally, the audiences have orgies after their shows.

Looming large behind the scenes are the Mangrove Snacks, a rival band of sonic caterers whose applications for residency was rejected "because of what they do to terrapins" and who retaliate through escalating acts of vandalism.

This is the fifth narrative feature for Strickland, whose credits include the psychological thriller 'Berberian Sound Studio', and 'In Fabric', the episodic tale of a haunted red dress. 'Flux Gourmet' is more similar to the former, rather than the latter. His love of Italian giallo and Spanish sexploitation are still at the forefront. The key difference is the humour in 'Flux Gourmet' - it's the funniest film that Strickland has made to date.

The key difference is the humour in 'Flux Gourmet' - it's the funniest film that Strickland has made to date.

My favourite character was Dr Glock (Richard Bremmer), a creepy Argus Filch-esque doctor who is thrilled to witness this revelation of a culinary program and tortures Stones by withholding information about his illness. "Let food be thy medicine," he informs the flatulent journalist while lecturing him on the works of Hippocrates. The chemistry between floppy-haired Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie – who, dressed in outrageous gowns and fabulous hats, looks like Lady Dimitrescu from 'Resident Evil' - is also a highlight.

Like his other films, the visuals, the costumes, the set decoration, the swirling colours, lush cinematography and the soundtrack are stunning. It's difficult not to recommend Strickland when he makes a movie this beautiful-looking and accessible, too. If you have a taste for something a little different, 'Flux Gourmet' is the perfect gateway into the oeuvre of a very unique filmmaker.

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