David Cronenberg reminds us once more why he's the king of body horror in his new outing, 'Crimes of the Future'. Despite sharing a name with Cronenberg's 1970 film, this new film is not a remake and is its own story entirely, although the thematic similarities between the two are fascinating; both use a science fiction view of the near future to explore the violent, hedonistic opportunities that come with mutilation of the human body.
As the result of decades of climate change damage, the ecological landscape we currently know is long gone. The human ability to do something as simple as sleep or feel pain are all but gone, with computers doing the heavy lifting to help out humankind. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen, 'Falling'), an eclectic performer, is one of the few humans haunted and hounded by chronic pain, which is caused by the constantly growing new organs that his on-and-off stage partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux, 'The French Dispatch') removes from his body during their performances. This isn’t just entertainment; it’s a matter of survival for Saul, as the organs will become tumorous if left in place. Saul and Caprice’s show has gained such popularity that the couple soon meet government officials Wippet (Don McKellar, 'The Middle Man') and Timlin (Kristen Stewart, 'Spencer') who initially intend to keep Saul’s organ harvesting above board, but eventually lead him down a dark path into the seedy underworld of unregulated human evolution.
A movie like 'Crimes of the Future' may definitely sound like the kind of cinema-going experience designed primarily to prompt audience walkouts in disgust – and that did happen during the film’s primary festival run – but it has far more on its mind than shock value. It is a film enthralled with the idea of approaching fast-evolving humanity with trepidation, as we do with new technologies in real life, rather than wonder. The fear of the unknown traps some, drives them to murder. For others, as we see through Saul’s exploits and his relationship with Caprice, it signifies unimaginable pleasure. Despite 'Crimes of the Future' being a far more theme-driven experience, its actors are still given opportunities to shine in the absence of character growth or a plot. Mortensen and Seydoux are brilliant as always, but the true scene stealer is Stewart, whose neurotic Timlin is practically vibrating with desire around Saul.
Mortensen and Seydoux are brilliant as always, but the true scene stealer is Stewart, whose neurotic Timlin is practically vibrating with desire around Saul.
Simply put, 'Crimes of the Future' can be quite disturbing and will be sure to polarise audiences, even if it is far less gross-out violent than Cronenberg’s previous works. However, there is a tender core to be respected and relished - an experience far more hopeful than the nihilistic ways in which the film’s characters use their bodies.