Crimes of the Future

Crimes of the Future

Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

David Cronenberg has made over 20 movies in his 50+ year career, and in ‘Crimes of the Future’, his 22nd movie, he returns to the body horror genre where he made his name. Sharing a title with his 2nd movie (although otherwise unrelated), ‘Crimes of the Future’ takes place at some point in the future where human evolution has started to accelerate for some people. For most human beings, physical pain and infectious diseases have disappeared, whilst advances in technology have meant that machines can directly control bodily functions, allowing for surgery to take place without anaesthesia. It’s a grimy, dark world that Cronenberg portrays with most of the action taking place in warehouses, decaying offices and dark alleyways – mimicking the decay of the human body that forms a major theme of the movie.

We view this world through the eyes of a couple of performance artists, Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux), who perform a gruesome show (although perhaps not to the people in this future) where she surgically removes new organs that Saul develops (he has “accelerated evolution syndrome”). This draws the attention of a couple of officials at the National Organ Registry, with one in particular (Kristen Stewart) becoming so infatuated that she declares ‘surgery is the new sex’ (spoiler: it really isn’t!). Behind this there’s a corporate espionage angle relating to how government forces and shady organisations infiltrate this underworld for their own means, which Tenser finds himself caught up in.

It must be said this is one of the grossest and most unsettling films I’ve seen in some time with some particularly squeamish imagery and body horror – to be fair, something one comes to expect with Cronenberg. I liked the performances, but I didn’t find the story to be as compelling as I’d hoped or expected it to be, particularly as the payoffs for the strands it develops never felt resolved or fully satisfying. Cronenberg is a director I’ve had mixed views on generally, albeit having not seen a lot of his classics, so he may be a filmmaker I choose to delve into in more detail at some point, but in terms of ‘Crimes of the Future’ it falls somewhere down the middle. Intriguing enough to hold my attention, but not compelling enough to stick with me afterwards.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Don McKellar and Scott Speedman

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