Home Dating apps Sundance movie review: ‘Fresh’ is a refreshingly macabre romantic comedy

Sundance movie review: ‘Fresh’ is a refreshingly macabre romantic comedy

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Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones go on a date in “Fresh.” Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 22 (UPI) — Dating sucks and has been the subject of countless movies. Costs, which premiered virtually at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, has an approach so bold it shouldn’t be spoiled, which is both a pun and a secret to keep.

Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) goes on a first date with Chad (Brett Dier), who makes a bad first impression, then the second and third. He’s typical of the types of guys Noa often meets on dating apps, so when Steve (Sebastian Stan) approaches him at the supermarket, he looks like Cary Grant in comparison.

Steve’s approach, however, would work in a vacuum. Just by being a decent human being, Steve traps her. Corn, Costs played in the midnight section of Sundance, so it’s obvious Steve isn’t quite the dream man. Yet the title doesn’t even appear until 38 minutes, so that’s when the rest of the plot needs to be protected.

Until then, writer Lauryn Kahn and director Mimi Cave are so keen on modern dating that viewers can be sure they’re in good hands. Representing modern texting and apps has already become a cliché in the few years they’ve been a constant in film and TV. Costs makes them natural.

The title can have several meanings and many of them are wrong. Here is a clue. It’s not about the fresh air in the Cottage Grove cabin that Steve invites Noa to, and it’s not about the fresh relationship.

As for the Midnight Movie antics, Costs delivers macabre mutilations the likes of which they have never attempted in Saw Where Hostel. Even in the darker sections, Stan relishes the role of Steve with playful glee, dancing through the house as if in Risky business.

Edgar-Jones is as adorable as she was in normal people. Noa is too good for all the guys in the movie, but not because she’s precocious. She just has no expectations, and yet everyone falls below that baseline.

Costs is not for the faint of heart as its placement in the festival, and the R rating, should indicate. It is, however, a true original, and adventurous moviegoers should give it a go.

Searchlight Pictures will publish Costs on Hulu on March 4.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a Los Angeles-based UPI entertainment writer. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Learn more about his work in Entertainment.