(director/writer: Peter Strickland; cinematographer: Tim Sidell; editor: Matyas Fekete; cast: Leo Bill (Technical Assistant), Ariane Labed (Lamina Propria), Richard Bremmer (Dr. Glock), Asa Butterfield (Billy Rubin), Gwendolyn Christie (Jan Stevens), Makis Papadimitriou (Stones), Fatma Mohamed (Elle di Elle); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Serena Armitage, Pietro Greppi; IFC Midnight; 2022-UK/USA/Hungary-English/Greek,German with English subtitles)

“A peculiar horror-infused film about cooking.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit director Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”/”In Fabric”) presents a peculiar horror-infused film about cooking that comes with a warning that for the film to be liked demands an acquired taste. It plays out as a clever droll comedy satire on the goals of cooking by concocting aesthetic parallel realities in the world of cuisine.

It features a culinary collective group that can’t agree on a name for itself. They have been granted an “institute” residence in a converted rural manor house, for studying the art of performance cooking. Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie) is in charge of the prestigious place and Elle di Elle (Fatma Mohamed), a visionary vegetarian, is the leader of the group consisting of the experimental chef Billy (Asa Butterfield), whose new work covers the nude Elle in pasta sauce while she acts as if shot, and the moody chef Lamina (Ariane Labed) who goes along with her colleagues. Elle refuses even constructive criticism from the group’s benefactor Jan, as the group works out by itself any short-comings in the piercing sounds created when cooking as an art experience. The shaken Jan believes that as the institute leader, she deserves to be heard.

The group’s progress is being chronicled by the pudgy Greek journalist/chef named Stones (Makis Papadimitriou), who has chronic stomach issues (flatulence).

By showing a series of power struggles and gastrointestinal issues the lightweight comedy pokes fun at the commercial influence on the cooking industry and its comical artistic pretensions.

The film might have been funny in spots, but never made much sense to me.

REVIEWED ON 7/17/2022  GRADE: B-