Crimes of the Future (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Crimes of the Future (2022) Review

Horrorific content by angie on June 03rd, 2022 | Movie Review | Sci-Fi, Love Sick, Drama, Psychological, Medical, Thriller, Police, Gore, Body Horror

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It's about a future in which a man turns his routine surgeries to remove unnecessary organs his body continuously produces into an artform with the help of his partner.

Crimes of the Future was directed by David Cronenberg and stars Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart (Lizzie, The Messenger, and Panic Room), and Viggo Mortensen (Psycho, The Prophecy, and The Crew).

Surgery is the new sex.

Crimes of the Future (2022)

Kristen Stewart's Timlin mutters "Surgery is the new sex" into the ear of Viggo Mortensen's Saul Tenser after witnessing his surgical performance art in David Cronenberg's new body horror movie, Crimes of the Future. It's a moment of clarity for Timlin's character. However, for writer/director Cronenberg, it feels more like a natural progression, a new extension of his existing body of work. In many ways, the artist's return to horror films focusing on the human body is an extension of his philosophical interest in the human body but a more subdued, reflective, and nuanced take on the subject that comes with age.

In a future world where people have adapted to living in a synthetic environment full of plastic waste, Saul Tenser is a performance artist who refuses to adapt. His body produces new, non-functional organs regularly, causing him great pain. Saul has become a well-known artist with his partner Caprice by surgically removing redundant body parts, which he views as a way to maintain control. Despite the avant-garde performances, many people have used Saul to explore and unveil the next stage of human physiology.

There's an aloofness to Crimes of the Future that allows it to stand apart from more traditional narratives. Echoes of Cronenberg's past work are present, with moments and imagery that directly reference other films in his catalog. The visionary is subdued and introspective, expressing his thoughts on aging, art, and the world around them. He believes that art can be transgressive and avant-garde and that it is our responsibility to give meaning to the world we have damaged. He tells his story through his characters in a beautiful, tranquil way while creating an almost nightmarish world.

The movie is focused on the dialogue, with characters often speaking quietly against bland, deteriorating walls. Howard Shore's score is also sparse and subdued, with scenes set to either silence or diegetic sound. There is a calming yet intriguing detachment to Saul's story and motive, with no grandeur to its highs or ending. The quirky humor is subdued and understated, and it feels very Cronenberg.

There are very few special effects or flashy set pieces; the focus is on the actors' performances. Mortensen's layers peel back slowly, and his sickly Saul often lurks like a strange monk that prefers to crouch in corners. Seydoux imbues Caprice with a stoic possessiveness yet exhibits a profound passion for her art. Stewart is captivating as the breathless, nervous oddball so completely enamored and aroused by Saul's surgeries.

Then there's the body horror. The perverse surgeries send the characters into fits of sexual desire; they're turned on by internal organs and surgical blades penetrating flesh. At the sight of a new wound across Saul's abdomen, Caprice kneels in pleasure, eager to explore his insides with her tongue. The tools, reminiscent of those in the movies Dead Ringers and eXistenZ, and the stage at home in Videodrome, unite to mesmerize and repulse the viewer.

Worth Watching? 

Crimes of the Future is more interested in raising philosophical questions than developing a plot. As a result, the worldbuilding is intentionally sparse and vague, and the pacing is slow and dreamlike. Cronenberg returns to the body-horror genre with ease but never probes as deeply into the human condition as his characters do. Even while operating on a smaller scale, Cronenberg continues to explore the limits of human flesh like no other director. His unique vision, quirky characters, and wry sense of humor make this a welcome and absorbing return to form.

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