Crimes of the Future review: David Cronenberg is still the king of the horror genre

“Surgery is sex, right?” That question wasn’t the only time that David Cronenberg Crime of the future it feels like it’s summing up the whole horror, horror, and horror deal of the filmmaker. But it is the most condensed summary. So it makes sense for the movie to return to the same phrases and ideas as it debuts in the near-future sci-fi world. At one point, one character refers to less bloody manifestations of lust than “old sex” – which not only dismisses the entire past history of the physical body, but also sounds like a Cracks in “new flesh” are praised in Cronenberg’s 1983 science film -fi horror nightmare Videodrome.

However, for a movie in which the non-medical characters repeatedly operate on each other, sometimes for artistic purposes, Crime of the future doesn’t feel as confrontational as previous Cronenberg provocations, like 1996 Accident. (It’s a story about people who consider car crashes sexy, not Oscar-winning racist mess.) Sometimes, it’s really exhausting.

Set in the unknown future as humanity begins to evolve away from the sense of pain, the film follows performer pair Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux), whose work has an action. The unusual dual is “desktop surgery”. Saul developed new organs, Caprice tattooed and then erased in front of an audience, using an ultra-special, rubbery, fleshy Cronenbergian console that manipulated bony Cronenbergian surgical instruments. Was Saul’s growth good or bad? Without the traditional bouts of pain, it’s hard to say – although he’s capable of withstanding repetitive surgeries, Saul doesn’t look particularly comfortable. He seemed to hover somewhere between ennui and pain.

Léa Seydoux glared at Kristen Stewart as Viggo Mortensen lay between them in an Assassin's Creed cape and hood from Crimes of the Future.

Photo: Nikos Nikolopoulos / NEON

Saul and Caprice’s actions attract the attention of Wippet (Don McKellar) and Timlin (Kristen Stewart) from a semi-hidden organization called the National Organ Registry. But the couple’s motives, and especially their actual wants or needs, are often unclear. There is also a vague mystery about a child’s digestive system; In the memorable opening sequence, a young boy named Brecken (Sozos Sotiris) is content to sit on a plastic wastebasket, as if suffering from an electrically charged pica box. His mother was terrified, treating him like a monster. While it’s unclear at the beginning, Brecken may have reached the logical end of the same syndrome that is affecting Saul and others.

That evolution is reflected in the film itself, which seems more concerned with bringing the director’s interesting ideas to a definitively logical end than in arranging a major climax (so to speak. so). Crime of the future often feels designed to begin, or possibly end, a period of time late for the director. Maybe that’s because it’s been a while since a Cronenberg movie put this emphasis on his brand.

There are uncomfortable moments, moments of horror and even some macabre moments in his relatively recent films, like Map to the stars and Cosmopolis (even with Stewart’s Sunset co-star Robert Pattinson; Taylor Lautner must be doing some messy moves as he waits for the phone.) But Crime is Cronenberg’s first full-fledged sci-fi/horror film since 1999’s hilarious gaming odyssy. eXistenZ. His return to genre territory is both more extreme and less extreme. eXistenZ is a more user-friendly ride for the hardcore, but despite Crime‘clear surgical moments, it’s a more contemplative movie, sometimes a movie break. You could even call it a mood piece.

If that sounds like a warning to lower expectations then there isn’t much momentum going forward. Mortensen, too electric in Cronenberg’s crime dramas The Promises of the East and History of violence, is more stylized here. When he was not on his stomach and dressed loosely on the operating table, he dressed as if he was about to jump in. Assassin’s Creed. He looks a bit like Ed Harris, and he sounds a bit like George C.Scott. All together, these influences create distance with the audience.

Seriously, Viggo Mortensen is more or less in the Assassin's Creed cosplay in Crimes of the Future

Photo: Nikos Nikolopoulos / NEON

The women in the film feel more open and intimate in their gestures. Seydoux brings a sense of dark charm to the uncanny artistic relationship at the heart of the film, while Stewart, as Saul’s enthralled surgical investigator, elevates his hasty talkative style. her to the point of being excitable.

The film comes to life every time Stewart appears, as if in contact with her drunkenness. Crime of the future need extra jolts of unusual star power. Despite its compelling visuals, it’s sometimes more engaging to think about than to actually see. Films were first conceived in the early 2000s. (In 1970, Cronenberg released a shorter film with the same title and a completely different story.) Moments of modernity, about expectation. the simultaneous fragility and flexibility of the human body and the increasingly desperate search for sensation in a developing world, mingled with a musty smell. It is placed mainly on underfloor furniture, narrowing the shadows and rich, contoured colors.

That was probably intentional – or at least that’s how Cronenberg turned the limited budget into a thematic style. It is also admirable; even as Cronenberg seems to be playing a repeat of his weird, shock-absorbing hits from his past, he knows the world is constantly changing. The shocks go away, the pain subsides, and people continue to grow. So does Cronenberg, and one of the best things about Crime of the future is that it makes it all the more difficult to predict where he’s going to probe next.

Crime of the future premieres in theaters on June 3.

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