Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg, 2022, Canada/France/Greece/UK)

Crimes of the Future is David Cronenberg's first film in 8 years and signals a return to form for the legendary body horror auteur. Reminiscent of classics such as VideodromeDead Ringers, and ExistenzCrimes is a speculative dystopian sci-fi mystery (romance?) set in a future where pain no longer exists. Our protagonist is Viggo Mortensen as Saul Tenser, a performance artist who grows new novel organs and has his artistic partner Caprice (Lea Seydoux) remove them. There is a bureaucratic "organ registry" that takes note of the performance artists - particularly Timlin (Kristen Stewart), who develops a romantic interest in Saul. There is also a group of breakaway gene modifiers who have modified their organs to such a degree that they no longer are truly human-led by Lang Dotrice (Scott Speedman). 

As with most of Cronenberg's work, Crimes does not follow a linear narrative structure. It is more of a tonal piece that seeks to examine several profound philosophical questions. Certain ideas are introduced - some quite novel, such as an "inner beauty contest" - but are never brought to a conclusion. The film's open-ended finale also leads to the sense that we have merely read the first few chapters of a much larger work.

The film deals with fascinating ideas, although it does have some weaknesses. Notably, the film is quite slow in parts. Also, Kristen Stewart's character Timlin - who seems to be the most interesting of the bunch - deserves more screen time. The film does need some levity - it is desperately gloomy, colored in grays and browns. Still, the body horror aspects are well-rendered, particularly the articulation of - as Stewart's character says - "surgery is the new sex". Crimes will likely please Cronenberg fans but is unlikely to become anyone's favorite Cronenberg film.



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