A great filmmaker must love creating new worlds. When British director Peter Strickland landed with his sophomore feature, 2012’s Berberian Sound Studio, his clarity of vision hinted that he may join heavy-hitters like David Lynch who excel in transporting viewers to an alternative cinematic reality. The 2014 follow-up, The Duke of Burgundy, solidified this; it was a work of enrapturing dark beauty. His new film, Flux Gourmet, presents a blackly comic and typically bizarre world, and though this world leaves room for more laughter, it is arguably his most extreme, absurd film.
Stones (Makis Papadimitriou) is a journalist tasked with documenting the residency of a collective who are researching the combination of cooking and sound. He has a big problem: acid reflux and wind that grows more hellish hour upon hour. As the group, led by Elle (Fatma Mohamed) start to quarrel, their performances become more and more extreme. They begin to involve Stones and his gastrointestinal issues in their studies, allowing for as many fart jokes as boke-inducing horror scenes.
The head of this bizarre bunch is none other than Gwendoline Christie, in a part far removed from her strong, deep portrayal of Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. As Jan Stevens, her playfulness, charisma, and sequence of cool hats is the rock of the film’s ensemble cast. Mohamed adds intensity as Elle, and Asa Butterfield is the comic relief as collective member Billy.
Strickland balances the drama and humour of the characters’ day to day lives with the intense weirdness of the collective’s performances, and herein lies his originality.
This is shown perfectly in a scene where Stones and the collective walk through the Gothic gardens as psychedelic music plays in the background. The scene is at odds with Stones’ solemn narration in Greek, the subtitles detailing his suffering at the hands of flatulence. It’s hilarious, yet deeply unsettling.
Like Strickland’s previous work, Flux Gourmet is heavily influenced by 60s and 70s horror exploitation cinema. However, the director’s technical command of the medium – always in service to the story and characters – and black sense of humour make his films much more than mere homage. Flux Gourmet is no exception, and if you have a strong stomach and a love of the macabre, here is the film of the season for you.
Flux Gourmet opened in select cinemas on 30th September