Mimi Cave’s “Fresh” is a tale of dating in the modern world. Sort of. Because what begins as a charming meet-cute, quickly devolves into a delightfully sadistic thriller that thrives on its inventive plot. I had so much fun watching this movie for the most part yet it’s not without its flaws. The pacing was on the slow side and the middle-act could have been tightened up a bit. There are also a couple of story wrinkles that would have benefited from a little more foundation.
The flaws though, are minimal and in the end do not really get in the way of this bonkers story line and all the enjoyable viciousness it provides. Like its title, the concept is fresh. It creates many unnerving and squeamish moments that pull you right into the desperation of this main character and it was a treat. There are vibes of “America Psycho” here and the twists and turns this narrative takes can easily keep you enthralled and feeling the emotional intensity of each deranged situation.
Sebastian Stan is at his best. Daisy Edgar-Jones shines as well, and together their chemistry captures all the needed dynamics of their evolving relationship. This is one of those movies that subverts expectations and Cave’s direction conveys the needed intimacy to fuel the seductive undercurrent. The music creates a chilling atmosphere when needed and it does so in the most unconventional of ways and it all works to give this movie a stylish atmosphere. “Fresh” isn’t for the faint of heart, but it certainly is a film that will command your attention at the most primal of levels.
Speak No Evil
Christian Tafdrup’s “Speak No Evil” is among the collection of horror films on the slate this year at Sundance. This story centers on a Danish family that visits a Dutch family they had met while on vacation a few months prior. What starts as a seemingly normal weekend getaway between new friends getting to know one another, spirals into a terror filled few days that will leave no one the same. And sure, it’s a simplistic premise. But when done right I feel this concept is also ripe with natural tension and genuine unnerving moments as common people are forced into situations that would test the limits of any human.
That was the notion going into this film, and I was excited for what it would provide. Admittedly it is a slow burn. The story takes its time to evolve as this family reluctantly but curiously goes out into the countryside to spend time with these new friends. I was constantly waiting for this one to kick into gear but sadly it never really does until the final fifteen-minutes or so. Now a methodical progression isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it can often be beneficial for feeling the stress and the fatigue of the main characters. But here it translates to nothing more than highly awkward moments for the bulk of the run-time with noticeable conveniences to make it all work.
By the time it’s done meandering around to build suspense, the plot then relies on the most powerless couple of characters in the history of cinema to get where it needs to go, and it was a miss for me. The performances were fine, but the story forces the sympathetic characters into such a weakened state, absent of any fight-or-flight mentality that you could care less about what happens to them. I suppose human response to strenuous situations can vary but here they were frustrating to the point the most impactful moments unintentionally become the silliest and most contrived. There was potential in the plot and the barbarous closing could’ve hit with much more gusto had the events leading up to it felt more realistic. Or at least anything other than purely infuriating.
Andrew Semans “Resurrection” pairs two talented actors in Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth and places them in a story line ripe with mysterious appeal. That is what lured me to this movie. Both Hall and Roth deliver. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a complex character with a troubled past she is trying to move on from as she single parents her teenage daughter. She has a career, a relatively solid relationship with her kid, and all of that slowly crumbles when a mysterious man (Tim Roth) emerges from her past. The impact is immediate on Margaret, yet it doesn’t play out in as intriguing of fashion as I would have hoped.
Watching Hall and Roth elegantly deliver their emotionally intense dialogue was intriguing to watch. From an acting aspect. Yet despite their capabilities it wasn’t enough to pull me into this story. I was able to connect to it from a surface level. I could feel the stress on Margaret’s private and professional life, and I could sympathize with it. Roth was appealing as this charming but ominous figure from her past. It was interesting to see Roth’s delivery of his playful torment. But their frequent conversations fail to completely fill a very ambiguous script with nearly enough genuine substance to resonate with general movie goers.
There’s an audience for “Resurrection”. It’s very unconventional which is always something to appreciate. It also provokes thought as to what this movie really is about. Sadly, though it doesn’t make much sense and regardless of Hall and Roth diving into these characters there isn’t much to legitimately explore. The over-the-top theme and final act are possibly too out-of-the-box that it may fail to connect to general audiences. For myself, it felt like a film that started 15-minutes into its run time and despite the emotional intensity it feels a bit more shock-value than substantive.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.