By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Disturbing images, sex, smoking in envelope-pushing satire.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No clearly positive messages, but it may inspire conversation about what qualifies as "artistically viable." Offers a memorable example of how creatives can quibble over details that aren't that important.
Positive Role Models
One character's passion for her art may be admirable, as well as how she's concerned with a colleague's health. But other behavior shows viewers that she's not a great person.
While women have power and voice here, they're all at odds with one another -- and their interactions are seen through the male point-of-view, with an air of judgment. Actors/characters are both European and Middle Eastern.
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Violence & Scariness
Shooting with blood. Very disturbing content/imagery: Body parts appear to be blended, cooked, and eaten. Advice to slap a person to get them to comply.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several orgies. Full nudity in a few scenes, although genitals are covered or hidden. Questionable sexual relationships. Sexual details and visuals. Excrement, blood, and items for a colonoscopy are depicted as sensual.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Constant smoking. Wine with dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Flux Gourmet is an intentionally disturbing satirical absurdist dramedy from indie auteur Peter Strickland. It's a horror film in that it will very likely leave viewers horrified. Strickland is both parodying and creating "shock art" here by depicting digestive problems sensually, including eating excrement and body parts (though it's later suggested that's not really what it was). Sexual imagery is designed to make viewers question their own morality. Scenes include a naked woman writhing in what appears to be blood, orgies as a show of appreciation, characters engaging or referencing inappropriate and illegal relationships, and crude gestures. There's also smoking throughout and some drinking. There may be an audience for this, but it's not teens, even with the presence of actors like Asa Butterfield and Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In FLUX GOURMET, a sonic collective is granted a residency at a culinary and alimentary performing arts institute. The institute's "dossierge," Stones (Makis Papadimitriou), records the band's power struggles and industry rivalries while trying to ignore his intense gastrointestinal pain.
Is It Any Good?
Ludicrous but serious, simultaneously high and lowbrow, this shock art satire is well made but stomach turning. Turning viewers' senses and sensibilities inside out, Peter Strickland creates discomfort with persistence, mixing sexual debauchery with defecation. Like a warped Wes Anderson movie, his characters and settings are perfectly crafted but look pulled from different time periods, creating an aesthetic clash. Inevitably, all of the characters have personality clashes as well. It leads to chaotic horror, not in the monster or serial-killer sense, but in terms of the disturbing images, ideas, and relationships the film sears into our minds.
Case in point: While Stones is quietly chronicling the sonic collective's time at the institute, he's fighting back a roaring need to fart. It's a horror of its own: He's trapped in a small bunkhouse with three other people where the bathroom is next to the shared bedroom. While viewers are saved from hearing Stones release a mighty wind, they're brought along on his journey as he tries to flush out the medical reasons his bowels are so unsettled. Strickland is poking viewers, asking us why gastrointestinal distress is a taboo subject. Artistic provocateur Elle de Elle (Fatma Mohamed) sees Stones' digestion misery as having artistic merit and incorporates it into her work in the most unsettling of ways. Early on, her put-upon bandmate Lamina Propria (Ariane Labed) walks out of an uncomfortable dinner, saying "I couldn't take it in there." Hear that as Strickland's warning: This culinary exploration is both inedible and indelible. In other words, file Flux Gourmet under Things You Can't Unsee.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about "shock value." Why does being provocative often get attention? What personalities can you think of who use being provocative to be successful?
What do you think the filmmaker hoped to achieve by making this film? Do you think he succeeded?
What audience do you think the film is intended for? How can you tell?
A "sonic collective" is a real thing; the filmmaker was a member of the Sonic Catering Band, which also made auditory experiences from the sounds of food. What defines art? As referenced in the film, what makes something "artistically viable"?
- In theaters: June 24, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: June 24, 2022
- Cast: Fatma Mohamed, Gwendoline Christie, Asa Butterfield
- Director: Peter Strickland
- Studio: IFC Midnight
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 1111 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 8, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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