Step aside popcorn, food at the cinema just got interesting. Edible Cinema is combining taste and texture with film. It’s kind of like wine pairing, but instead of pairing wine with food, it’s pairing food with film.
We experienced Edible Cinema at the Soho Hotel’s intimate screening cinema, paired with Mother! – the evening before it came out in cinemas. It’s new psychological thriller by Darren Aronofsky starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. At this point, we have completely digested the food, but haven’t quite digested the film.
Just before going into the screening room, we were given a box containing eight little pots – pre-ordered based on dietary requirements, and it coincided nicely with the film. The food was in unnamed, numbered containers and the film characters were unnamed as well, simply called, Him, Mother, Woman, Man…
In order to try to get you into the full experience, we have to run through the film. Prepare yourselves for a little confusion.It starts off in a sizeable wooden house, located in a dreamy field – the singular location of Mother!, A poet, credited as Him (chasing inspiration) and his young wife (single-handedly restoring their home) are interrupted by a travelling man (Ed Harris), who ‘mistakes’ the home for a bed and breakfast. He is invited in by Him (Javier Bardem) to stay the night, much to Mother’s (played by Jennifer Lawrence) unease with having a stranger in their house. The following day, the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives, and then their two sons, making themselves a little too at home. It’s all quite strange, and you never see a car and when you pan out on the house, there isn’t even a driveway. People just appear.
Swinging back our tray of unmarked food containers, we’ve already tucked into pot one, which echoed Mother painting the walls of the house – scooping up mushroom pâté with carrot powder onto paint-brush-resembling Melba toasts. A figure to the left of the screen holds up a big, illuminated sign indicating when and which pot you should be lifting the lid on – a bit like a ring girl at a boxing match.
A little later into the film Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), has us snacking on charred tongue in Japanese barbecue sauce – Woman has a sharp one, prying into Mother’s personal live and doling out unsolicited advice. Mirroring Woman again, who makes spiked lemonade, we share a drink with Woman and Mother – gin-spiked lemonade.
Other key moments of food intake include spicy red Gazpacho, ingested during a Cain and Abel moment when one of Man and Woman’s sons kills the other, leaving a puddle of blood on the floor to be cleaned by Mother. It is also seeped up by the house, which seemingly needs blood and human sacrifice to thrive. When Mother touches the walls, an image of a beating hear-type organ comes onto the screen. Without Mother having any input or opportunity to decline, the funeral reception, complete with dozens of strangers is hosted in her home, but eventually Mother and Him have a night of alone time and proceed to create new life.
Mother, who is now heavily pregnant, prepares a feast to celebrate the impending arrival of the baby and we’re invited to share a mini Comte and truffle tartlet. Just before the couple are about to dine, people starting coming out of the house’s surrounding foliage, pilgrimage-style, to meet Him as he has just produced new prose. Mother begs Him to come back in and be with her alone, but he cannot pry himself from his fanatical devotees, who eventually invade the house. It gets chaotic and this is where the popcorn comes in, but it’s not basic. Edible Cinema’s popcorn packs a kick.
The house is now full; uninvited guests have built shrines to Him and are starting to get rowdy – bombs, gunfire, hand-to-hand combat – the house is a battle zone. Mother and Him climb up a human mound to get up to their shared bedroom on the second floor. They shut out the bedlam and Mother then gives birth to their son. A fruit basket is delivered to the new mother from the mass of disorder outside and we too are delivered a bowl of shared fruit down the aisles, brimming with carbonated grapes stuffed with a pink peppercorn.
Mother bonds with her new child under the watchful eye of Him, who waits for her to dose off so that he can present the baby to his disciples. The baby gets snatched and passed around, you then hear a snap (breaking neck?) and the crowd proceeds to tear flesh from a small, eroded figure on an altar.
Mother rightfully goes off the deep end, sets the house on fire and we ingest our last pot of food: charred celeriac, lava salt, smoked aubergine and red miso. Him extracts mother’s heart from her charred body, which transmogrifies into a precious stone – a stone that then resets the house. We return to a similar opening scene when we were first introduced to Mother, but this time around she has a different face.
In a nutshell, we’re not entirely sure what Mother! was about. God? Feminism and the uphill climb that women still combat to receive equality/respect? The modern era’s obsession with celebrity? Global warming and Mother is Mother Earth? The transience of existing? We’re still thinking about it. What we are sure about is that we really enjoyed the experience of Edible Cinema. Netflix and our fridge now have some serious competition.
For more about Edible Cinema, click here.
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