At his most memorable, Cronenberg creates viscerally unforgettable images that horrify, yes, but they also provoke with big, shocking ideas about our very selves – the monstrousness of disease, the perhaps inevitable hybrid of the corporeal and the mechanical, the determination of the self. With Crimes of the Future, we’re left with a remove from the material, where no matter what happens, it’s all just performance art.
Stream Crimes of the Future
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Just as [Cronenberg’s] characters can live in a suspended state of rot, he can thrive within a world and culture in its death throes. In his reenergized perspectives on degeneration, he’s created one last safe haven for his fellow degenerates.
Crimes of the Future is Cronenberg to the core, complete with its fair share of authorial flourishes (the moaning organic bed that its characters sleep in is a five-alarm nightmare unto itself) and slogans (“surgery is the new sex”). At the same time, however, this hazy and weirdly hopeful meditation on the macro-relationship between organic life and synthetic matter ties into his more wholly satisfying gross-out classics because of how it pushes beyond them.
The film offers up more mysteries than it solves. Still, riveting work from Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux as performance artists whose canvas is internal organ mutations will draw the curious.
It’s a piece which is deliberate, but not sterile; disturbing, but too grounded in reality to be truly frightening, even though it probably should be given it attempts to blend the fears of body horror with climate change.
It’s marvelous to have Cronenberg back and to behold his undimmed, unparalleled skill at welding the formulations of horror and science fiction to the cinema of ideas.
The movie, like so many Cronenberg films, is a gut-twister that is really, just underneath, a painstakingly chewed-over and cerebral experience. It’s an outré nightmare that keeps telling you what to think about what it means.
It’s an extraordinary planet that Cronenberg lands us down on, and insists we remove our helmets before we’re quite sure we can breathe the air.
It’s a movie full of ideas that are never quite unified into a thesis. A bunch of wild imagery and grim hypotheticals about what could become of us may be enough for some viewers. Others, like me, will be left prodding away, trying to locate more meat on all of these ornately assembled bones.
Seydoux gives the film’s best performance: even wrenching moments are played at a glassy remove. But unlike Cronenberg’s Crash, which shook Cannes to the core in 1996, there’s no shock of the new in Crimes of the Future – a crucial requirement for every true festival coup de scandale.