Crimes of the Future
crimes of the future | david cronenberg | lea seydoux | kristen stewart | viggo mortensen | futuristic | drama | sci-fi | canada | france | greece | united kingdom | scott speedman | don mckellar | tanaya beatty | nadia litz | welket bungue | denise capezza | body horror
Film: Crimes of the Future
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen
This movie was one that excited me when I heard that it was coming out. My interest was piqued even more when I saw its reception from Cannes and that it was coming to the Gateway Film Center. I’m a big David Cronenberg fan so that helped as well. Other than that, I tried to come in as blind as I could. What did know was that this shared the same name as a short that he made in the past. They aren’t necessarily related outside of him enjoying the title.
Synopsis: Humans adapt to a synthetic environment with new transformations and mutations. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux) are celebrity performance artists. They put on public showcases of the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.
For this movie we start seeing Brecken Dotrice (Sozo Sotiris) playing in the water. There is a cruise ship or a large sea vessel of sorts in the distance that is on its side. This is setting the tone for the world we are in. His mother comes out of their house and tells him not to eat anything he finds. Her name is Djuna (Lihi Kornowski). We then see why as when he is supposed to be brushing his teeth. This leads to a shocking event.
It is from here we meet our leads. Saul and Caprice live together. As the synopsis said, they put on performance with a machine that was intended to do autopsies. Saul’s body is creating new organs and what they do for their shows is remove them. This changes the lives of those that see this.
There is a new agency that wants Saul to register these organs he produces. Running it are Timlin (Kristen Stewart) and Wippet (Don McKellar) who are invited to their next show. We also have Berst (Tanaya Beatty) and her co-worker, played by Denise Capezza. They work for the company that makes the machine that Saul and Caprice use. They’ve never seen one in in person until called to repair it. They were stopped being made. It raises their interest. There is also a vice cop who is interested in all of this, played by Welket Bungué.
The officer and the organ registering agency have a problem though. There is a group out there that have done surgery on themselves to allow them to eat plastic. Lang (Scott Speedman) is working with them. He comes to the show that Saul and Caprice put on. He is also connected with Brecken and Djuna. Saul is thrust into a darker underworld and learns something about himself. He along with Caprice, they must figure out who they can trust as they navigate.
Now I decided to go a bit vague with my recap of the movie. What I wanted to do is introduce the basic idea and the characters mostly. Where I want to start would be that this is a Cronenberg movie. It took me a minute to settle into the world, but once I did, it felt real. That is something I commend him for. This is set in the future, but we don’t know how far. It is still grounded though. That shocks me that he can do that. He effortlessly can create a world just slightly different from our own and make it feel real. This introduces a bit of commentary as well. The world we are set has been destroyed by humans and is polluted. We are also dealing with evolution. Before getting deeper into this, what I want to set up with humans is that many can no longer feel pain. Surgery is done on a regularly basis and anywhere. If you give consent, then anyone can operate. This is an odd thing, but it pulled my interest and it makes sense for the world we are in.
With that taken care, I want to shift over to the idea of evolution and how it is explained here. This is a theme that Cronenberg uses regularly. Off hand, you could say that is the case for Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome and in a way, The Fly. Saul’s body is producing new organs. It is brought to his attention during the movie that maybe he shouldn’t remove them. I was thinking this as well. I like how what his body is doing plays in overall story. Another aspect to the movie dealing with evolution I’ve already brought up is that humans can no longer feel pain. This is attributed to pollution and I like the idea. It is a hot button issue currently so it is poignant. Evolution explains a lot of things and makes things problematic here.
The last thing I want to go into story-wise would be the idea of fetish. Saul and Caprice feel pleasure through the performance they do. As I was writing this, I realize that since no one can feel pain, they probably cannot feel pleasure in the traditional sense. There is a moment where Saul states that he isn’t versed in the old ways of making love. Back to what I was originally saying, their performance arouses people on. There are multiple people who witness it and want to be a part of it. Caprice feels the same way when she goes to the performance of another. This is something else that Cronenberg likes to explore in his movies. What it makes me think, it isn’t for me, but I won’t kink shame either. For many of these characters, it seems to be the only way some can feel something which is a high they’re seeking.
Acting is where I’ll go next. I think it is good across the board. Seydoux and Mortensen are great as our leads. They play off each other so well. This duo also progress the story. Caprice has less to work with as Saul does more of the investigation. There is also a good reason there. Caprice falls more into ‘depravity’ though. I like Stewart in her role along with Speedman, Beatty, Kornowski, Capezza and the rest of the cast. There isn’t a bad performance and they all progress the story in different ways. How they all fit also makes this interesting.
All there is left to go into would be the filmmaking. This is a Cronenberg movie so it is on point. The cinematography is good. What I like is that we are in a bleak world, but it isn’t in your face. The world around everyone is drab without going over the top. The subtle way they convey this is by people having surgeries done on them or the only thing that is different are the performances we see. The effects there are done well. I think there is a bit of CGI here, but we also get good practical effects. Both works together to make things look real, even when it is fantastic. The only other aspect would be the soundtrack. I thought that was good and fit the movie for what was needed. It doesn’t necessarily stand out as I reflect on it, but it never took me out of the movie either.
In conclusion, this is a movie that I tried to temper my expectations for. I was excited to see Cronenberg returning to horror. This one did leave me wondering what I saw, but as I’ve reflected, it stuck with me. We are getting good commentary here about the environment and human evolution. It also our writer/director exploring fetishes as well. I think that the acting is good across the board. The effects were good, both the practical and CGI. This is also a well-made film from the cinematography to the soundtrack. What I do have an issue with is that this is slow and meanders a bit. After this first viewing, I believe that this is a good movie that I borders on being great for me. Now that I’ve given this a second watch, I’ve come down with my score. This didn’t hold up as well, but I still recommend it.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10