Flux Gourmet is A Peter Strickland Fartsterpiece

Peter Strickland is an incredible writer and director trying his very best to make B-movies.

The British director himself has said it – when it comes to movies, he’s more into trash. Which must be really hard for him, because he can’t seem to make a bad movie – from Berberian Sound Studio to In Fabric, his work, though often silly or insensible in topic, is always sublimely well-made, and I always come slithering back to his work for more of his idiosyncratic black comedy and cultish leanings.

Flux Gourmet, his latest, is a treat if you’re like me in that regard. Following a sonic catering group – an art collective making sounds out of food – it follows their tumultuous residency at a prestigious retreat, as investigated by a journalist covering their story. Oh, and the journalist can’t stop farting. That, too.

Making art about art, as I’ve written about before, is difficult and frequently annoying masturbatory nonsense, but using Makis Papadimitriou as the flatulent journalist investigating the group gives as a sensitive and accessible way in. And I think Flux Gourmet has a lot of interesting things to say about the function of art, especially in incestuous groups like this one – I love the way Strickland has these characters emotionally and even physically undress themselves, only to get no closer to the actual issues that are plaguing them, because they’re too stubborn or consumed by the work to see them.

One of the recurring themes I enjoy so much in Peter Strickland’s work, that’s a central part of Flux Gourmet, is the rituals we find in the mundane – for In Fabric, it was the hypnotic recital of a washing machine repair manual, and here, it’s play-acting grocery shopping in a half-trance state. There’s something so unsettling about turning complete day-to-day mundanity into something with this much of strange, dreamlike state, and it’s this ability to find the absurd in the average that makes Strickland such a consistently compelling director for him.

Well, that, and the fact he’s really funny. Flux Gourmet is an incredibly witty movie, laced through with camp and gaudy costumery, with a plot about farting serving as our main character’s arc. Fatma Mohamed, a frequent and frequently brilliant collaborator of Strickland and his movies, delves into a devilishly funny take on the edgy artiste, fainting into the arms of anyone close enough to catch her when she’s called upon to do any actual work. Gwendoline Christie, in a collection of increasingly silly headwear, is a genuine delight, her ability to balance her tragicomic downright brilliant.

This sublime blend of silly and serious, insightful and insensible, is exactly why I come to Strickland’s work, and Flux Gourmet might be the most perfect balance of all his various tones yet. His skill as a writer and director shines even in a story as silly as this, and I can’t wait to see what controlled chaos we get from him next.

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By Lou MacGregor

(header image via ScreenRant)

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