You know those meet cutes you see in a movie, where two people just happen to run into each other in the grocery aisle, and maybe hit things off over a head of lettuce? Yeah, that rarely happens in real life now. Gone are the days where dates and romance blossom over a random meeting. Now, modern dating is done mainly through various dating apps. You like how someone looks, you swipe right, strike up a conversation, and maybe things are promising enough that you meet up in real life.
The true test comes in person, and that’s when you’ll be able to properly discern if there could be something there. It’s absolutely exhausting stuff, to feel a possible sense of hope only for it to be dashed when the other person just doesn’t suit you in any way. There’s also the unspoken danger that we don’t talk about enough. After all, these people we meet are practically strangers, and these apps are flooded with con artists and scammers out to make a quick buck. Then there are the individuals who mean you harm.
While the dating game is difficult all around, Mimi Cave’s Fresh makes it clear that it’s so much harder for women who date men, due to the threat of physical safety. It takes very little effort for a man to physically overwhelm a woman if he chose to, and due to power dynamics of male-female relationships, sometimes women have a hard time saying no or voicing their discomfort because of their fear of displeasing the man; there’s also the anxiety of what could happen to them if they did so.
Fresh is truly a nightmare made real: to go into things with stars in one’s eyes only to be met with the horrific reality of something else altogether. When Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) at a grocery store, he’s everything she could want in a man. He’s handsome, witty, funny, and there’s certainly chemistry there. But something’s a little off. Steve’s a bit too forceful, a bit too enthusiastic about getting to know her after barely five minutes of contact. There’s enough stuff that’s happened in the world for us to know that we should be wary of the handsome stranger, but that’s sometimes difficult when it’s someone like Sebastian Stan.
Whoever handled casting is a genius, because Stan has that rare mix of good looks, confidence and charm. Looking at him through Noa’s eyes, he’s truly irresistible, which is probably why she ignores the red flags and her well-meaning friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs). Fresh makes it clear that violence against women isn’t something perpetrated by a few – it’s an entire system that enables and drives such behaviour. This violence will not stop until we are seen as agent individuals, as humans with feelings, needs and wants, and not mere objects to be devoured and casually disposed of.
While the conclusion of Fresh isn’t as complex and nuanced as the rest of the film, it truly is well-made and genuinely horrifying. The soundscape is amazing and kept me on edge the entire time. I especially love how some of these recognisable 70s and 80s tracks about love are repurposed for scenes that are clearly not about love in any way or form. It felt reminiscent of American Psycho’s use of popular songs, with characters who think that they’re cultured and refined, but in reality lean towards violence and savagery.
I’m quite the Peter Cetera fan, and Restless Heart will never sound the same to me ever again.
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Mimi Cave's film deserves all the praise it's been getting. It's quite the meal, and both Edgar-Jones and Stan deliver superb performances we'll still be raving about at the end of the year
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