Flux Gourmet opens with fried livers being added to a blender hooked up to a mixing desk while an elegant woman in a white robe emits a gutteral moan. Within that initial sixty seconds, you are in no doubt that you are watching a Peter Strickland film.
His previous films featured a sound engineer working on an Italian movie, two lesbian lovers testing the limits of their relationship, and a killer dress! All wildly different in terms of story but linked by a unique style and vision.
Set at an institute devoted to culinary and alimentary performance, a collective finds themselves pushed to their personal and professional limits by a series of power struggles, artistic vendettas and gastrointestinal disorders.
Imagine Heston Blumenthal creating an experimental show for Edinburgh Fringe Festival!
Despite there being the physical barrier of the silver screen separating the art from the audience, the film uses sound and visuals to provoke the senses. One can hear, smell and even taste the food used in the group’s performances. Either causing audiences to salivate or even gag. An unavoidable reflex action during one particular scene.
For all its weird and wonderful (sometimes nasty and nauseating) sights and sounds, it is also very funny. Despite the narrator’s constant irritable bowel syndrome, it never debases itself to a series of fart jokes. Instead the comedy comes from the characters and how their relationships are tested during the retreat.
Strickland is building quite the collaborative himself. Surrounding himself with a loyal, talented production team and he ensemble is peppered with actors who have appeared in his previous films. From Gwendoline Christie, Leo Bill and Richard Bremmer to Fatma Mohamed
Mohamed is the only actor to have appeared in all of Strickland’s films. Growing in stature from a single line in Katalin Varga to the scene-stealing shop assistant Miss Luckmoore in In Fabric. Here she plays Elle di Elle. The founder and leader of her troupe and someone who will not bend when it comes to her vision. Particularly not to the Foundation’s creative director Jan Stevens. No matter the cost. She is the embodiment of the spirit among the actors who are attuned to Strickland’s unique wavelength.
“Cooking and performance is a hazard”. Some audiences may find it difficult to stomach. Those that can will find that Flux Gourmet is an absolute feast for the senses.
Flux Gourmet is in cinemas and exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema from September 30
Director: Peter Strickland
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Gwendoline Christie, Ariane Labed, Fatma Mohamed, Makis Papadimitridou
Runtime: 111 minutes