‘Crimes of the Future’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Some filmmakers just excel in a sub-genre like no other. The sub-genre of body horror is not one people tend to gravitate towards because of what it entails. However, when the focus is not solely on the grotesque mutilation of the human body, one could be intrigued by the story. The one director who has owned the genre is David Cronenberg and Crimes of the Future uses the body horror as a metaphor for technological evolution. Cronenberg incorporates so much in the one-hour and forty-seven-minute runtime that it becomes hard to even process each new idea. Cronenberg highlights two topics that coincide: bodies as performative art and how new technology has harmed natural development for future generations, hence the title of the movie. 

Cronenberg writes a story about humans who adapt to a synthetic environment. He shows that the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux) are performance artists. Saul’s assistant, Caprice publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs. Meanwhile, a mysterious group, led by Lang Daughtery (Scott Speedman) tries to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution. The cinematography by Douglas Koch in certain moments when Saul and Caprice were performing captured the voyeuristic way we consume physical expression. Koch and Cronenberg show the difference in scope when it’s performance-based, sexual expression or even for scientific purposes. 

The fascination with the human body and the regenerative way the organs work in Saul’s body makes the story interesting. Cronenberg builds so much in this futuristic body horror that the scientific jargon of the future of human biology overtook the horrific aspect of the film. It felt like there weren’t enough scenes showing how Saul’s body works and what Caprice does to it, to connect with the body. It wasn’t as graphic as his previous films and at times it did feel a bit tame. It could have been the special effects work that took the realism out of the actual gruesome process. The cast did make it believable for the most part; Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart were fantastic in this. Seydoux can command the screen with just one look. And Stewart needs to choose more obscure characters like Timlin in the future. 

Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future had a strong concept that got lost towards the end of the film. The first half was all set up for a larger issue that did not pay off in the way it should have. Instead of feeling full from watching a film with messaging about a changing and deteriorating world, you will leave the theatre empty and a bit confused. Apart from this being a metaphor for the destruction of technology in our world, this can also be seen from a film industry perspective. The fate of the industry has changed so drastically because of the evolution of technology as well. The important takeaway from this film is that Cronenberg explores so much with physical bodies with a futuristic idea that parallels technological advancements and future repercussions.

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