You’re single. Dating is exhausting, and you can’t willing rely on anyone but yourself. When you check your fridge, you realise you have no food and need to do some grocery shopping. At crazy hours of the night in the fruit and veg section, a man approaches you. He is handsome, he is witty, he has a taste for ‘cotton candy’ grapes, and he seems nice.
During a time when it is more common to meet your significant other online, this is how Noa and Steve have their classic romcom style meet-cute – in the fresh food department of a supermarket. Quickly, Noa believes she’s found a sexy like-minded man who understands her weirdness and Steve seems smitten. However, I’ve always been a firm believer that you never really know a person until you’ve seen them strained – whether it be tired, angry, hungry, or all the above. Things are not quite what they seem, and while I do love a romcom just as much as the next person, Fresh is so much more.
Created by women for women, Fresh is a comedy thriller film written by Lauryn Kahn and is directed by Mimi Cave in her feature length debut. These two talented women have put their heads together to make a fantastic film that contains equal amounts of romance, comedy, fierce friendships, comradery, chills, and thrills, all wrapped up together in a neat little bow.
The film has a small but talented cast, with the leading roles of Noa and Steve played by British actress Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan respectively, joined by Jonica T. Gibbs as Noa’s feisty best friend Mollie, Dayo Okeniyi as Paul, Andrea Bang as Penny, Brett Dier as Chad, and Charlotte Le Bon as Ann.
Admittedly, I’ve not seen Edgar-Jones’ work before, but I was floored by her performance as Noa, as well as her convincing American accent. You really feel for Noa, especially when she’s dating and is being inflicted with the typical sexist shit that women cop every day. When all she wants is just to find someone to love, who will love her in return. Noa’s relationship with her best friend Mollie is dynamic, believable and the natural chemistry between Edgar-Jones and Gibbs shines. Honestly, everyone should have a best friend like Mollie in their lives.
For the time that we do witness Andrea Bang work her talents, Bang is superb, effortlessly emotive, and concise as Penny. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dayo Okeniyi as Paul and found myself smirking during his thought process whenever he was on-screen.
However, I would be lying if I said that Sebastian Stan didn’t reign this film. I’ve enjoyed Stan’s work over the past few years, consisting of a healthy combination of blockbusters and the more challenging indie arthouse films. His performance as Steve is phenomenal and is so bloody expressive, intense, and powerful, that he’s undeniably captivating, even during scenes where he has no dialogue. His facial expressions and his eyes say everything that we need to know.
The cinematography and costume design department work well together with the clever use of colour and tone. From the blues, greens, and greys at the beginning of the film, transitioning to the warmer tones and colours of red, yellow, and tan, these decisions combine to only enhance the cinematic experience and the storytelling whilst also providing style. In some moments, the film also feels like a cooking show, and strangely, I did guiltily get a bit hungry during the film.
Also, the chemistry between the two leads is electric and the energy exchange between Edgar-Jones’ Noa and Stan’s Steve is forever shifting. Throughout the film, we can never really figure out who exactly is the ‘hunter’ and who is the ‘hunted’ until the very end.
A film like this is not without its morals. Women don’t necessarily need men, nor do single people have to be in a relationship. There is nothing wrong with being single, there is nothing wrong with wanting love, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having sex on the first date. And while independence is something to be proud of, just like anything, being on your own, especially as a single woman, can still be just a little bit harder.
Fresh is complex, clever, and surprising. I loved this film, it’s brilliant, it’s hilarious, it’s exciting, and although it may not be for everyone, my only criticism is that it is going straight to streaming when it could have been a hybrid release (both on streaming and in cinemas simultaneously). I feel Fresh deserves to also be seen on the big screen. Nevertheless, I highly recommend a viewing of Fresh and honestly should you choose this adventure, you’re in for a hell of a ride. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to grab a burger and later try some of those ‘cotton candy’ grapes.
Fresh debuted earlier this year in January at the Sundance Film Festival and will be on Disney+ everywhere from March 4th.