Crimes of the Future
Sharing the same title as his 1970 feature, Crimes of the Future serves as a poignant conclusion to David Cronenberg’s career-long interrogation of our relationship with our bodies.
A few generations in the future, humans have ceased feeling physical pain, and grown immune to bacterial infections.
For some, like performance artist Saul Tenser, played by Viggo Mortensen, the evolutionary journey continues. Saul’s body generates new novel organs. Before rapt crowds in dungeon-like basement auditoriums, Saul’s partner Caprice, played by Léa Seydoux, extracts the new organs in live surgery spectacles.
But these mutations have alarmed the government, who’ve formed a shadow agency to blunt these growing evolutionary trends. This includes establishing a national organ registry to catalog mutant organs.
The film opens with a memorable inciting incident I won’t spoil. It propels the story along with Cronenberg’s familiar themes of revulsion, paranoia and governmental mistrust.
And yet, despite this familiarity—and a visual esthetic lifted from his earlier film, eXistenZ—Crimes of the Future stands apart.
Cronenberg’s earlier works surfaced the horror inherit in a younger man’s distrust of his own body. Said distrust resonated, as one could substitute authority, culture, religion, or any inherit institution. Punk rock horror.
But this film reflects an older, more resigned Cronenberg. It lacks the angst and urgency of its predecessors. In their place, Cronenberg proffers a quiet meditation on aging and acceptance wrapped in some unsettling visual moments. One scene features a surgical tool cutting into a foot. I felt the sound of metal scraping bone along my spine. A resonant bookend to Cronenberg’s fifty-year cinematic journey.