Does anybody like the dating scene? Whether or not people are willing to admit it, the entire venture is not just a crap shoot for everyone–but a whole distinct world of disappointment and woe for women. Unwanted advances, staggeringly self centered cads, catfish masters; the list could go on forever and I do not envy any woman entering the world of not just dating, but specifically online dating. But just how dangerous can meeting someone else be for anyone? With her feature length directorial debut of a script from Lauryn Kahn, Mimi Cave explores the pitfalls of the dark world that could await us all.
Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is like anyone else– She’s looking for a partner in life and has been spending her time swiping through profiles on a popular dating app. After a disastrous meeting with a real douche of human being named Chad, followed by a run-in with what must have not been the first unsolicited dick pic she received, Noa starts to re-think her plans. That is till one fateful night in the supermarket produce section, when she meets the charming Steve (Sebastian Stan). “Who meets someone not on an app, anymore,” she thinks to herself. So, when Steve ends up pursuing Noa, she falls head over heels for him immediately. When the two decide to go away on a trip together early on in their courtship, Noa quickly realizes that Steve is not who he seems to be.
Like so many films out there, Fresh is not a perfect film. But in comparison to much larger budgeted films with a certain level of clout behind them, Fresh is a goddamn masterpiece. As someone who can sit and nitpick his way through every blockbuster under the sun, it’s hard to find the typical flaws in logic and plot holes that you find in other films. I’m not saying there are a few things I can’t help but shake my head at (traveling timelines for Steve being the main one that comes to mind), but Fresh is a tightly compiled and well produced piece of work. If you twisted my arm, I’d say I was a little taken out of a particular scene by my appreciation for clever use of a string rendition of Radiohead’s, Exit Music (For a Film). But that’s a good thing, right?
Fresh is also held down by some great performances from its leads. It’s great to see Sebastian Stan pull the throttle on the crazy train, while of course still keeping things fairly grounded to not make the whole affair a tragic farce. Though, Daisy Edgar-Jones takes the cake here. Switching on a dime from terrified to calculating, all while maintaining a level of sweetness that can only be described as the essence of Noa. There is also some wonderful levity in some of the darkest times between her and Jojo T. Gibbs who plays her best friend Mollie– as well as a third party who I will leave unnamed for now in an attempt to be as spoiler free as I can.
It’s only fair to say that some people might go into Fresh thinking it may be a little more detailed in its visual flare for the dark than it actually is. In this case, I think it is a good thing and the right thing to do, even if maybe it was done out of a lack of resources. And I do not know if that is the case, just making a statement. Though I would hope people were open to all versions of what a film could present, there are throngs of people out there who gauge their enjoyment of a film based on how much gore is or is not present.
You can easily look at Fresh as just a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of dating, but in reality it’s a much more pointed look at the old adage that men just see women as pieces of meat. We chase, salivate, and do whatever it takes to just devour another person for our own pleasure. Well, I saw we…but I’m going to remove myself from that distinction.
Final Grade: B
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Here’s the trailer of the film.