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Fresh (2022 Sundance Film Festival); Grade: B+

Strictly Films is excited and proud to welcome you to coverage of this years 2022 Sundance Film Festival!!! Before Sundance made the entire festival virtual, they did offer online along with in person screenings, so we’re truly thankful Sundance considered having both platforms for viewing the festival and we hope this is a continued trend going forward. We begin our festival run with: Fresh.

Fresh tells a story about a single woman named Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) whom has a struggling time with dating. Noa has been on a dating site/app for quite some time, as she has endured many bad dates that lead to nowhere. One day at a supermarket, Noa comes across a stranger named Steve (Sebastian Stan) at the produce section. Steve appears to be a handsome, charming, and funny guy to Noa as she’s instantly attracted to Steve as she believe it or not gives him her number. Things are looking bright for Noa, as she’s bound to spend an over night vacation trip with Noah at some lavish cottage. How will things go on their trip?! Will it make Noa convince love actually exists or will disappointment soon follow.

I’m going to make this very clear to the marketing team over at Fresh: Please do not reveal the actual plot to this film while presenting a trailer, market this film the way I described the plot and let everyone endure an experience, follow my advice. Expecting they don’t follow my advice: Do not watch the trailer or read the synopsis of this film, go into knowing nothing as I promise you, you are in for a surprise.

Fresh can be placed in a category of films in a particular genre, however this film elevates this genre to where it’s not only unique in presentation as far as story telling, but it does so that it doesn’t become stale. Often enough when it comes to films like these, the story can be run down as it feels like a major slow burn as you hope things will pickup to where there is a great enough payoff to justify the slow pacing of the story. With Fresh however: It actually tries to keep the audience thoroughly engaged, as the film takes you on other places to where your curiosity is not only met but it keeps the viewer thoroughly engaged with the story being told than just being only centered around our lead characters in their situation.

The story of Fresh is weird, you can even say the mind of the film maker and writer perhaps have a sick twisted mind that feels inspired by the likes of Eli Roth. However I was really impressed by Fresh, not only delivering a very sick story, but also how much variety this film has to offer. What’s kind of interesting about Fresh is the fact it has a self aware moment, to where it knows it not totally taking itself seriously. Like the humor in this film is just… Bizarre, especially with the actual reveal of the storyline, however the film maker knows the subject matter of the story is bizarre enough so it’s well aware they can even have some well executed dark humor in it as well. It became clear with me from the humor aspect, in the third act where a supporting character is delivering dialogue that almost felt as it’s telling the audience this is a movie… It is one of the most baffling comedic scenes ever, however I think that’s exactly what the film maker is going for, even though it’s perhaps a dark film however it’s not totally taking itself seriously.

Fresh is a well shot film, there’s a lot of memorable sequences that involves with such crafty film making. Surprisingly enough: The Score of this film was really good, I really enjoyed the music as it’s quite fun while following along with some sequences in this film. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan both played great performances, delivering great chemistry, great in serious moments, but also complimenting the sick minds of these individuals. What’s really surprising: Both of these actors delivered awesome dance sequences… I loved the third act dance especially during their last meal together, it was fun to watch.

One thing in particular that stands out to me with Fresh: Dating can be skeptical not only just on dating apps and online, but even meeting someone new in person without these platforms. As Noa claims it feels refreshing to meet someone in person for a change establishing a connection from the start that leads to a date, as this rarely happens in today’s society as your bound to get a hit or miss with online dating. The film pretty much indicates that online and in person… More than likely can receive the same result, there are good eggs and bad eggs wherever you go, so there really is not a safe route wherever you go to where you can find a great companion.

Fresh does however encounter flaws with one pacing issue during the middle portion, as I will say it does have some cliches and tropes that can be familiar. One noticeable cliche that indicates the audience where the story may be heading, it involves a cell phone… I thought the film should’ve directed themselves away from that trope, so the audience can have really no idea what is bound to happen to these characters. Maybe try to elevate it to where they could go out to a lavish restaurant or maybe a lovely sight scene, as you continue to build having the audience not know exactly where this story might be heading, as you even completely catch them by surprise.

Fresh is a strong start to this years Sundance Film Festival, definitely a “fresh” new look on the genre of films itself. A very weird film yet thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, I enjoyed the humorous last shot of the film however I do have a much funnier dark last shot that I hoped this film would’ve executed. Also: The title sequence… Beautiful.

Overall, Fresh was a pretty damn good film. I highly recommend checking this film out, it’ll definitely be a perfect first date film… Yeah she might hate you for taking her to see this film, however at least you’ll have a memory that’ll last forever. -Mitch Smietana

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