Crimes of the Future review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
David Cronenberg has once again conceived a world where the lines of violence and sex bleed into a surrealist dream state of weird futures. Crimes of the Future doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It depicts a lot where pain has become not only a thing of the past but an art form. The evolution of humanity transformed surgeries into entertainment, mutilations into beauty statements, and organ growth into a cause for governmental intervention.
Cronenberg’s world is deeply defined and goes for the gusto in terms of the gross. The full-blown grotesque is displayed with the character Saul (Viggo Mortensen). His ability to grow extra organs has made him the hit of the art scene, aided by his assistant Caprice (Léa Seydoux). They perform for audiences watching Caprice use a strange bug-like device to operate on Saul’s body, extracting his organs that seem to keep growing. This type of sight has become the norm for artistic entertainment.
Saul’s development, however, attracts some dangerous attention. Timlin (Kristen Stewart) and Wippet (Don McKellar) are investigators with the National Organ Registry, seeking to maintain a database of evolutionary developments, secretly hindering them when they can. This needs arise when a new human evolution is discovered where a man can consume plastic. Saul is thrown into this chaos by becoming a target of a plastic eater pleading to solve a murder and a detective hoping he won’t get that far. For being an evolutionary marvel himself, Saul questions who to side with and if he needs to be more mindful of the policing in the world.
As with all of Cronenberg’s movies, this is a richly defined world with odd little quirks. I was particularly thrown off by Saul’s unique chair he needs to use to eat food. It’s a boney contraption of organic parts that must constantly move as Saul struggles to swallow his food in a method of eating that is so creepy it got under my skin, even more than the scenes where blades go under the skin. Sex transforms into a different experience. Saul and Caprice can only get satisfied if they do it in an operating bed with robotic arms cutting and tearing at their skin. Even facial mutilations become artistic statements, to the point where nudity is the mere icing for the bigger appearance watching the human body open. Think of it like watching Hellraiser, where the Cenobites are more or less the good guys.
Matching Cronenberg’s previous pictures, Crimes of the Future questions human evolution itself and how we may hinder it. This is a dark and dreary future where the internal desires to feel outweigh the perceptions of flesh-tearing. There’s a very telling scene where Timlin tries seducing Saul, through the old-fashioned way of kissing and enticing sex. Saul apologizes for his unorthodox mouth noises upon this sensation, mentioning how he’s not as used to the old ways sex. All of this leads to a bitter end where the ultimate resolve is not so much political as it is cerebral.
In case it needs to be said, Crimes of the Future is not for the faint of heart. If the mere glimpse of a tit, the moaning of sex, or a cut to the forehead makes you wince, Cronenberg is not for you, let alone Crimes of the Future. Those who are willing to watch challenging science fiction that taps into asking tougher questions about our world, bodies, and desires will find that the body-horror director has once more delivered a delirious and intoxicating banger of a film.