Director: Peter Strickland | Screenplay: Peter Strickland | Cast: Gwendoline Christie (Jan Stevens), Asa Butterfield (Billy), Makis Papadimitriou (Stones), Fatma Mohamed (Elle), Richard Bremmer (Dr. Glock), ea | Time to play: 111 minutes | Year: 2022
Most movies give you direction quickly: the search for an innocent character begins, the first part of a riddle is found, two destined lovers meet. But every once in a while you have movies where characters and a setting are introduced, with no idea how it’s going to play out. It’s okay if the scenes are full of intriguing drama, but Gourmet Flow falls short by relying primarily on rarities.
The Toboggan Stones are hired by an art institute to document everything about their current roster: Elle and her “sonic gourmet band.” As he follows these three sound artists, Stones also has mounting intestinal problems that trouble him deeply. As tensions rise between the band members, Stones walks around in fear that his stomach is about to explode.
Peter Strickland is not a very well known director, but if you have seen his previous two movies (Study of Berberian Sounds in On cloth), then you know that he is passionate about the Italian cinema of the 70s. If you have never seen a film of him, you will arrive at the first minute. Gourmet Flow I already came to the same conclusion.
What’s different this time is the genre: dark perhaps, but unmistakably a comedy. Whether you find it funny is a matter of taste, although it’s hard to imagine anyone holding back a laugh at what Gwendoline Christie’s character (game of Thrones, Wednesday) is put to sleep.
Considering the hairstyles and clothing, you can easily assume that the story takes place in the eighties. And apparently it is the most normal thing in the world that there are ‘sonic gourmet bands’. People who like to place a microphone near or in boiling food and manipulate the sounds, which looks like acting.
Strickland uses, among other things, the fact that humor is in repetition. Every time Jan Stevens’ character walks into the room, the band leader, Elle, says her name in a surprised tone. Every morning, when the digital rooster sounds, the three members of the band get up in sync (and the two females immediately put a cigarette in their mouths).
Even though it revolves around the band and there are two household names in the cast, Stones is the main lead. His physical ailments may be meant to be funny, but anyone who’s ever suffered from bad breath and intestinal gas buildup—without a chance to isolate himself for a while—knows there’s nothing funny about it. Stones’ condition is presented so clearly at the beginning that you spend the rest of the movie worrying about him to the point of being slightly distracted.
The world that Strickland has created is unique. But what makes his characters play there isn’t always convincing. Somehow it seems like the conclusion is thought of first, and the rest is filler leading up to it. The ending is strong and has a solid conclusion to what the characters are wearing. It feels like the last piece falling perfectly into place in a puzzle you didn’t know you were doing.
One of the topics in Gourmet Flow is a critique of the world of modern art. After a first test performance, Jan Stevens gives her opinion on the use of flanger, a technical sound effect. The bandleader, Elle, doesn’t even know what a flanger is at first, but she refuses to change it in any way, and Jan Stevens then makes it her mission to banish the damn thing.
at the same time Gourmet Flow part of this world. You can compare it with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in which Bruce Wayne criticizes the amount of damage to buildings caused by the fights between the hero and the villain, but then also trashes half the city.
Like Strickland’s previous films, his latest creation is far from accessible. However, if you’re a fan of weird humor and alternate characters, you’re sure to enjoy it. After the opening scene, the retro Italian feel fades and the film takes on a more individual look. He tends to say that it could have been a bit shorter, but when he has to cut a scene, every moment turns out to be a part of it.