Sundance 2022: FRESH Review

FRESH is an impressive debut from filmmaker Mimi Cave and serves as a takedown and a warning about the dangers of modern dating. Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as a young woman, Noa, navigating the world of dating apps, dick pics and all. After a chance encounter with Steve (Sebastian Stan), an attractive man at the grocery store, Noa decides to do the unthinkable and gives her number to a man she’s just met in the wild. The two form an instant connection and Noa continues her impulsive streak and joins Steve for a weekend away.

It’s at this point that things go awry, and also when the title credits roll in (almost 30 minutes into the film!)

That FRESH is Cave’s first feature film is extraordinary. She’s incredibly bold in her camera work and styling, clearly influenced by the ‘70s and ‘80s. Cave uses the camera in a number of ways, but perhaps the most interesting is when it captures the POV of a character. She uses her lens to take the audience along for the ride.

Stan, in particular, is a stand out in FRESH. Incredibly charming and deliciously cheeky, he’s a delectable delight as Steve— albeit a bit sinister. Likewise, Edgar-Jones makes Noa incredibly relatable, especially given how familiar her character’s journey is to anyone who has ever attempted to find a partner through an app.


It’s hard to talk about the film without giving the game away. It’s an engrossing story that’s surprises but doesn’t rely on its shock value alone. There are moments of dark humour and genuinely gripping moments too. As a horror/thriller it works well, and as a dark comedy, it works well too.

What has stayed with me most about FRESH is how real it felt. Not the circumstances Noa finds herself in with Steve, of course. But that feeling of utter helplessness, that sinking feeling in your stomach when you know something’s wrong, and the anticipation that something bad is about to happen. To some this may be commentary on gender politics, but to me, it’s a director simply re-creating a scenario most women have thought of at one point or another: what if he kidnaps or hurts me?

There’s a reason we text each other details of our dates (name, picture, location of date, etc.) beforehand and send reassuring messages when we’ve arrived home safely. The root causes of this kind of behaviour are complicated, but in those moments we’re not thinking about that. We do those things to keep us safe. And while it may seem ludicrous to think we might get kidnapped or hurt, it does happens every day. Cave takes all of these fears, safety precautions, and paranoias and imagines a heightened scenario — a scenario of what if all our worst fears about online dating came true.

FRESH is an enjoyably dark romp with some great performances. But there is one glaring issue that needs to be addressed: the Black best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs). It’s 2022 and we should be far beyond relegating Black actresses to the thinly written best friend role. To someone who’s just there to offer up sassy comedic relief. Gibbs does a great job in the role, and her chemistry with Edgar-Jones is very sweet. But considering how much we rely on our best friends in these situations, the role deserved to be far more layered and meaty.


FRESH premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Head here for more from this year’s festival.