Gwendoline Christie is the best part of this weird and funny satire • AIPT

The blurb for river gourmet will probably be the strangest thing you read today: “In an institute devoted to culinary and nutritional performances, a collective find themselves embroiled in power struggles, artistic vendettas, and gastrointestinal illnesses.” Written and directed by Peter Strickland (in fabric), river gourmet promises to be a film as odd as its brief synopsis suggests.

Now that you’ve Googled “alimentary” (referring to diet or nutrition), you’re probably, like me, very curious as to what exactly a culinary and nutritional performance entails. The Sonic Catering Institute provides the answers.

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There is tension within a performance collective – a “culinary collective” led by a light red-haired Elle Di Elle (Fatma Mohamed). The drama that will develop around the collective is set to be chronicled by Stones (Makis Papadimitrou), a journalist hired by Jan Stevens, director of the Sonic Catering Institute (a cheeky Gwendoline Christie), to follow the artists and to write about their performances.

I went to art school (no flex trust me) and I’ve never met anyone quite like the cartoons in river gourmet since I graduated from a certain college of art and design. And the characters in it river gourmet are all caricatures of various archetypes one would find in such an institution. It seems likely that unless you are familiar with performance art – and performance artists – these caricatures will not really resonate with you.

However, everyone knows for sure someone who take themselves too seriously, and that’s at the heart of the characters in river gourmet. The only character who doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously is Stones. Stones suffers from a bad bout of GERD — an ironic predicament for someone who has to care for those who work with food that I’m sure no one has missed.

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Perhaps Strickland incorporates all of Stones’ gastrointestinal issues and his embarrassment at his inappropriate “let wind” to let us know that this film is intended to be humorous (in both the modern and original senses of the word). Stones narrates both his time with the collective and his stomach upset throughout the film in Greek, which I think makes it sound a bit nicer, but the fart talk isn’t limited to Stones.

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The performances themselves are okay, if a little goofy at how seriously they take themselves. This can be a struggle in performance art and film. What can be totally captivating and gorgeous in person can be downright boring on screen. Naked and covered in blood, Elle di Elle rolls around like a pig awaiting slaughter while her co-performers (Ariane Labed and Asa Butterfield) prepare food and play with pedal effects. Other performance pieces in river gourmet retrace sonically they are interesting, but visually they are less compelling.

Gwendoline Christie’s Jan Stevens and Asa Butterfield’s Billy are the funniest characters to watch river gourmet. Billy wears a denim jacket and a ridiculous haircut; incredibly believable as an anxious art school boy – one who may or may not have an egg fetish. A scene of sexual tension between Billy and Stevens is perhaps one of the funniest in the film and the start of a relationship that is the most interesting part of it river gourmet. Christie is amazing in everything she does and in her performance river gourmet is no exception. She carries herself exactly as one would imagine the director of a renowned culinary arts school to be; Her outfits and dramatic eye makeup are the icing on the cake.

river gourmet


Despite the hard work of his doctor (Richard Brennan), Stones’ stomach problems worsen and tension mounts river gourmet rises. Jan Stevens and Elle di Elle don’t get along, constantly arguing about the direction of the performances and their cohesion. An outside group called The MangroveSnacks (which had been rejected by the Institute) threatened to disrupt performances and cause a riot. Things escalate, but it’s sadly boring and predictable.

While river gourmet as satire is very funny, it’s a specific satire that probably won’t be associated with most viewers. Visually, the audience will see a lot, and the sound design – including the experimental noises (with food!) during the avant-garde performance pieces – is excellent. But the story is a bit thin and the characters don’t give you much grip.

river gourmet premieres Shiver on Thursday September 15thas part of their “61 Days of Halloween”. It’s an unusual choice for the horror streaming service; Most viewers will be waiting for Shudder to give them plenty of scares in the run-up to Halloween. river gourmet isn’t a horror film and it’s not scary, but it’s fun and different. A little treat for your September horror binges.

river gourmet

Flux Gourmet Review: Gwendoline Christie is the best part of this weird and funny satire

river gourmet

Flux Gourmet offers something different from Shudder’s usual fare; a humorous look at the art world and its inhabitants.

Otherworldly and colourful.

Gwendoline Christie and her outfits.

use of music and sound.

Too much fart humor.

Thin, somewhat predictable plot.

Persistent satire.

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