Crimes of the Future

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Crimes of the Future
dir-scr David Cronenberg
prd Robert Lantos, Panos Papahadzis, Steve Solomos
with Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungue, Don McKellar, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Tanaya Beatty, Nadia Litz, Lihi Kornowski, Denise Capezza, Jason Bitter
release US 3.Jun.22,
UK 9.Sep.22
22/Canada 1h47

mortensen seydoux speedman

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Crimes of the Future
It was only a matter of time before David Cronenberg made a Greek New Wave movie, taking his distinctive body-horror approach to the surreal near-future genre he helped inspire. Indeed, this film was shot in Greece, and Cronenberg leans heavily into grotesque physical imagery that knowingly depicts a society where politics and medicine have merged. And in its own gloomy way, this hushed film offers some deranged hope.
Famed performance artist Saul (Mortensen) sleeps in a pod in which he grows surprising organs overnight. Then his partner Caprice (Seydoux) extracts them to entertain crowds. Because officials are concerned that new organs are unnaturally accelerating human evolution, Saul and Caprice check in with National Organ Registry Director Wippet (McKellar) and his assistant Timlin (Stewart), who becomes aroused by Caprice's methods, noting that surgery is the new sex. And as Saul meets with a range of biomorphology experts, he is also approached by grieving father Lang (Speedman) with a grim proposal for a new show.
Using an eye-catching mix of practical and digital effects, Cronenberg realises a world that blurs lines between bodies and technology. He also weaves humorous and emotional undercurrents into even the grisliest moments. This adds meaning layers of meaning even to side roles like a curious detective (Bungue) or a plastic surgeon (Pirpassopoulos) who gives Saul a zipper for easier access. Through all of this, the film continually makes knowing comments about the inexplicable relationship we have with our constantly changing bodies.

Matching the film's drab colour spectrum, performances have a muted, almost insidious sensibility, but they also feature sparks of personality that make each of the characters fascinating. Mortensen and Seydoux have a wonderfully relaxed chemistry between them, confident in their extraordinary endeavours. Stewart brings a pungent yearning to her role as the rather too-interested Timlin. And in a magnetic marginal role, Speedman suggestively shifts the plot in the direction of a thriller with his secret group of cohorts.

"I've never seen one in the flesh," says a scientist about Saul and Caprice's modified surgical contraption, which like his bed is made of sinew and bones. The film bristles with freaky extrapolations of current bio-science and body modification, such as a fellow performance artist who grows ears all over his body, then stitches his eyes and mouth closed. This is a remarkably complex exploration of physical desire and the idea that each of us is a work of art. And Cronenberg also gives a whole new meaning to inner beauty.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 11.Aug.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall