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Crimes of the Future ★★★★



Directed: David Cronenberg

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman

Released: June 3, 2022 (USA)

When we think of body horror cinema, we instantly think of David Cronenberg. The Canadian auteur had been missing from the big screen since his last feature, Maps to the Stars, in 2014. Many rumours were floating around about his next project, and Crimes of the Future was announced as his latest feature film. He has previously used this title for a mid-length feature back in 1970 and was also the working title of eXistenZ in 1999. While both may have turned out differently, his latest film may be one of his most thought-provoking.

As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. Accompanied by his partner, celebrity performance artist Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) showcases the metamorphosis of his organs. Meanwhile, a mysterious group tries to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.

David Cronenberg unleashes his thoughts on the arts with Crimes of the Future. Deep within its darkly sordid yet comedic tone is quite an interesting observation of how we are tantalised by art and how far we are willing to go to feel something? We live in an era where we see all sorts of content, art, literature and culture in the palm of our hands, and Cronenberg takes this concept and slaps a bunch of extremity and provocation. Cronenberg doesn’t necessarily use his usual bag of tricks to visually make the audience uneasy but more by haunting the mind with thoughts of how far they dare to go in order to feel fulfilled.

Drenched within its monotone aesthetic lies the grotty sense of this new art form. Simple household items are laced in that usual Cronenbergian feel and pay homage to many of his previous films like Naked Lunch, eXistenZ and Dead Ringers. You can also sense the voyeuristic nature of Crash here too, as you meet many fans of Saul’s work, all wanting their fix of his artistry. The glare of each camera swirls around his latest work, and Cronenberg eerily captures the stillness of their curiosity.

To delve deep into the narrative would be a crime within itself, but Cronenberg brings quite an unsettling abrupt ending to the film, but for this writer, it felt right. He wants you to be angry, and he wants you to think about where art and technology are leading to the future? Pain is an existing thing that will never fade away, but we can find pleasure through art and culture. Crimes of the Future does well by making you think of what you have just seen, but it will also lead you to explore more of the richness of this world. Everyone’s trip through cinema is different, and this one will raise some eyebrows and raise some fascinating questions about art.

Working on his fourth collaboration with Cronenberg is Viggo Mortensen. His performance as Saul is quite stripped back compared to his previous stints with him. There is a feeling of artistic control in him, and he perfectly embodies the nature of an artist at the height of his power. Léa Seydoux majestically glides through the film’s emotional weight with great ferocity. She walks the fine line of trust with Saul due to his avid fanbase, but she almost feels like the architect of this body movement. Kristen Stewart’s Timlin was quite a fascinating character on the fringes, making her way into the movement. Her nervous mannerisms as she approaches, waiting to participate in this art form, fit so much to the misfits in the works of Cronenberg; you wish there were more of her in the final cut.

Even now, to see Cronenberg deliver something so enriching through his unique style and palette is a Godsend. Crimes of the Future is a darkly thought-provoking work of art from one of the finest minds in cinema.

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