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Crimes Of The Future (18)

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Don McKellar, Scott Speedman, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart
Genre: SciFi
Author(s): David Cronenberg
Director: David Cronenberg
Release Date: 09/09/2022 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 108mins
Country: Can/UK/Gre
Year: 2022

In an unspecified bleak future, a government department called the National Organ Registry (NOR) is responsible for cataloguing new organs that donors such as world-renowned performance artist Saul Tenser grow within their own bodies. Saul's partner Caprice surgically removes these unwanted growths as the centrepieces of their well-attended artistic endeavours. NOR officer Wippet and his sexually repressed colleague Timlin take a special interest in the couple's activities.


LondonNet Film Review

Crimes Of The Future (19) Film Review from LondonNet

How do you solve a problem like microplastics – tiny particles created for commercial use or broken down from discarded single-use items in the environment – and mitigate their impact on delicate marine ecosystems? Cinematic provocateur David Cronenberg’s audacious solution is a queasy, futuristic nightmare in which evolved humans consume the plastic they manufacture and discard, chomping hungrily on the rim of a wastepaper bin or snacking on beach detritus including water bottles. Save the planet we have relentlessly pillaged and poisoned by exploiting a dominant species’ gluttony and greed…

Crimes Of The Future harks back to the Canadian writer-director’s glorious past and his popularisation of the body horror genre with stomach-churning features including Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome and The Fly. Here, surgery is “the new sex” and self-mutilation is elevated to an orgiastic artform: a rush of blood to the head and loins that renders obsolete old-fashioned expressions of intimacy. “I’m sorry. I’m not very good at the old sex,” apologises Viggo Mortensen’s performance artist after a lacklustre physical kiss with Kristen Stewart’s smitten admirer.

Arousal is reserved for an operating table where fully conscious, nude characters quietly moan and whimper as scalpel-wielding robotic arms controlled by human hands slice through their gently heaving skin and extract extraneous organs. These clinical extractions in front of enraptured camera-wielding audiences are one of many blackly humorous titillations in Cronenberg’s curiously erotic and languorous picture.

In an unspecified bleak future of pronounced decay and pollution, developments in human evolution have largely eradicated physical pain. A government department called the National Organ Registry (NOR) is responsible for cataloguing new organs that donors such as world-renowned performance artist Saul Tenser (Mortensen) grow within their own bodies. Saul’s partner Caprice (Lea Seydoux) surgically removes these unwanted growths as the centrepieces of their well-attended artistic endeavours.

NOR officer Wippet (Don McKellar) and his sexually repressed colleague Timlin (Stewart) take a special interest in the couple’s activities. Timlin fixates on Saul and he entertains her advances, appraising his new admirer as “rather attractive… in a bureaucratic way”. Their fates collide with underground revolutionary Lang Dotrice (Scott Speedman), who hopes the artists will perform a live autopsy on his eight-year-old son Brecken (Sozos Sotiris) to publicly challenge prevailing wisdom on the human condition.

Crimes Of The Future is a clinical, precise and achingly stylish thriller that revisits key themes from the filmmaker’s oeuvre. Eye-catching production design conflates the grotesque and gory with post-apocalyptic glamour, notably in the strangely skeletal technology that Saul requires to eat and sleep comfortably. Stewart delivers an appealingly creepy portrayal of pent-up sexual tension, invading Mortensen’s personal space by excitedly forcing her fingers into his mouth during one uncomfortably charged exchange. She is the most wonderful facet of Cronenberg’s artfully composed weirdness.

– Kim Hu


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