Show me a smile
Owing much to clear-cut direction from Mimi Cave and key performances from Daisy Edgar-Jones, Hulu's twisted satire on modern dating, 'Fresh,' leaves an indescribable taste.
Fresh is much attuned to its own sound. Somewhere in its frenzy of flavors is a palette, laid bare, that feels very much cleansing. The premise of an artsy, young woman navigating the hive of a-Bumblin’ dimwits until she eventually meets “a ridiculously cute” man who will sweep her off her feet can turn ugly real quick in the wrong hands. But in the hands of director Mimi Cave and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn, the film feels immovable about its stand.
Men. Are. Pigs.
This is a universally acknowledged fact, one that inspires artist, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) to carry an exasperated disproval of online dating. So why seek it, right? The film also seems to ruminate on this and flails as it does so between the typical “you don’t need no man” hypes-up and the “I guess I’ve gotten used to being alone” pity-me-please bullshit.
Point is, Noa wants to find someone. Not an egregious request, except when the universe conspires directly against her and has her meet Steve (Sebastian Stan), a charismatic man who lures her with dimples and a ziplock bag of questionable produce. Hitting it off with what seems like an all-around great guy, Noa soon learns of Steve’s dark intentions. And so our documentary exposing the swine-like culture of men begins.
For an idea as audacious as this, the direction needs to be airtight — and Cave delivers…for the most part. There’s a whole arc that feels rather unnecessary in that it was ultimately wasted in the end, at which point much of the film’s wit and cunning has kind of dissipated entirely.
That being said, the film doesn’t fall short in milking its greater moments. The dance scene, for instance, pairs well with the one in Kogonada’s After Yang. And Noa’s successful manipulation of her captor is quite thrilling to watch. The whole bit is funny and disgusting, but not as funny nor disgusting if Cave & co. opted to cast the obvious choice for Steve, here, which is Armie Hammer.