Peter Strickland continues on the trajectory of being the new Peter Greenaway (a comparison that no doubt plagues him) with his latest glorious enigma.
Flux Gourmet is set within the art world and told through the gaze of Stones (Makis Papadimitrou), a self-professed hack journalist hired to document the latest in-house cooperative curated by the patron Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie). The artists in residency are a three-piece who create ‘sonic cuisine’, headed by Elle (Fatima Mohamed). Stones suffers from gastric problems, which cause him immense embarrassment since he’s forced to share a dorm with the mixed-gender culinary collective. The performances become increasingly bizarre as Elle and Jan clash over creative visions.
There are plenty of filmmakers who do weird for the sake of it, but Strickland has the knack of making the strangeness look and sound so beautiful. While it’s by no means a comedy, there’s plenty of humour - often hilarious - within the situations and oddness. As a satire of art types, it’s astute and grotesque, which makes it all the more compelling. Strickland once again focuses on audio, which brings Tim Harrison’s superb sound design to the fore, whether it’s in the simmering pots of vegetables or the squelching of a colonoscopy.
Gwendoline Christie’s character is enigmatic but dominant, however, the standout is Fatima Mohamed’s Elle, who is dogmatic and arrogant; committed to her art at whatever cost and unwilling to compromise when given notes on the use of a flanger. She’s unlikeable but compelling as many artists are. Special mention must go to Richard Bremmer’s doctor, who delights in embarrassing and frustrating the tortured Stones.
Strickland’s films are always visually sumptuous and Flux Gourmet is full of vivid imagery, even if some of it isn’t very palatable.Flux Gourmet is in UK cinemas on September 30th.