Take for a moment, and think about a world without pain. Think about a world where body modification and surgery are the norms. That’s the world that David Cronenberg sets up with Crimes of the Future. It stars Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, and Don McKellar. Cronenberg writes and directs a script that shares a name with his very first feature, but not the plot.
I cannot wait to see what film students think of Crimes of the Future. The comparisons and motifs on display here are off the charts. David Cronenberg directs his first feature since 2014’s Maps to the Stars and he returns to a format and style that made him a household name amongst the horror community. There might not be tons of “frights” here, but the display of body surgery and new sexuality should be enough for fans of his. What really stands Crimes of the Future apart from the rest of the crowd are the performances and the world that it builds. This is not really a horror flick, but more of a noir science fiction. It taps into a more subdued Blade Runner type of design that was crossed with the work of H.R. Giger.
The film is mostly carried on the backs of the three stars though. This isn’t necessarily the gross-out horror fest that some critics at Cannes were walking out on. It’s much more cerebral and deeper than just a body-horror film. There are some issues, like the overall structure of the film, but it leaves a lot open for interpretation.
A Tale Of Three Bigger Than The Overall Story
Sure, you’re going into Crimes of the Future to see what David Cronenberg has cooked up in regards to surgery and removing Viggo Mortensen’s organs on camera. However, after you get to that point, there’s something truly special when it comes to the three lead performances. Léa Seydoux goes through so many different sides of her character throughout. Caprice (Seydoux) and Saul Tenser’s (Mortensen) relationship is a complicated one that goes beyond the normal bounds of a performance partnership. When you add voracious fangirl Timlin (Stewart) to the mix, it gets even more complicated. That’s not even the sauciest thing to think about in Crimes of the Future.
There’s a sort of undercover cop subplot at play in Crimes of the Future. It all connects to the bigger mystery of the film regarding human evolution. There’s an organ registry agency that’s the center of the film as well. The crux of it is Saul’s ability to naturally craft new organs as old ones are removed. His and Caprice’s shows consist of an avant-garde performance where Caprice dissects Saul. The machines that they use are very erotic and suggestive in their uses.
It gets even weirder than that when there’s a secret organ contest that Saul considers entering. From a plot standpoint, Crimes of the Future sounds like it jumps around a lot, and it does, but in the end, it makes some sort of sense. The ending does sort of show you what’s the case, without outwardly telling you. You can interpret it how you like.
Satisfying Yet Unconventional
Crimes of the Future smolders and simmers but never really boils over the way you think it might. The story at large leads you to think that at least something is going to come out of it, but that’s not really the point. The opening scene might be the most “shocking” in regards to any scene in the film. Nothing else is really resolved and that’s for the best. Our intrigue and plot are left up for the audience to interpret. What is the cause of Saul’s condition? Who is Timlin actually? Does Saul win best organs? Those questions and the interactions over them are the reason to watch Crimes of the Future.
As for the comparisons in the film, it asks what is art and why we value certain art forms more than others. You can draw parallels between Saul and Cronenberg, especially when it comes to people in positions of power and his movies. It’s things like this plus the intrigue of the story that’ll keep you invested in Crimes of the Future. It might not be for everyone, but this movie will make you think.
Crimes of the Future releases in theaters on June 2nd, 2022.
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