#CANNES22: “CRIMES OF THE FUTURE” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
This latest effort from Auteur David Cronenberg takes place sometime in the future when the human species has adapted to a synthetic environment. In doing so, the human body undergoes new transformations and mutations. Saul (Viggo Mortensen) is a man whose organs metamorphosis. This leads him and his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux) to put on performance art shows where she operates on him, removing one of these mysterious organs at a time. However, a mysterious underground group believe that Saul’s ever-growing insides might just be the next step toward evolution.
Cronenberg opens with a young boy searching the ocean as a rotted shipwreck is just off the coast. It’s clear something has happened to Earth due to climate change. His mother warns him to not eat anything he finds. From her urgent, disgusted tone it’s clear he does this a lot. Soon we watch as he eats a plastic garbage bin. It’s a powerful opening to a film that works best as a commentary on climate change.
The impact of this climate change has caused the human body to transform in order to survive. However, this has led the species to feel no pain. As mentioned in the Film, pain acts as a warning sign. This brings into question how one can survive without it. The hollowness that comes with these characters causes them to crave something to feel.
The surgeries, and performance art, act as a substitute for sex in Crimes of the Future. As Kristen Stewart’s character Timlin explains: “Surgery is the new sex.” Stewart steals the show with her portrayal of the mousey Timlin. Particularly, in her advances upon Saul. It’s a shame she’s underused. But this statement is true as we see when watching Caprice (a daring and captivating performance from Seydoux) perform the surgeries on Saul. The look of desire and lust spreads across her face as she controls the procedure.
This theme of sex throughout the Film directly correlates to the idea of reproduction that continuously comes up. The evolution of humans won’t happen if no one is reproducing. One scene has Caprice unzip a part of Saul’s stomach and perform what is akin to oral sex. It’s as though Cronenberg is asking: how will the human race continue if they don’t procreate? They can adapt all they want, but without procreating the species will cease to exist.
The stylistic world Cronenberg and his Production Design team have created brings us into this futuristic world. The bed Saul sleeps in resembles a cocoon. He eats in a chair shaped like a skeleton that constantly moves. When he’s getting operated on, the machine looks like he’s in an incubator. This world and Cronenberg’s vision are fully realized.
There are Subplots that Cronenberg explores in the Film. He touches on how the Government police human bodies. They don’t want the characters to stray from the natural transformation their bodies are going through. This is the significance and the young boy from the beginning and the underground group who are attempting to perform surgeries to progress the human body. This Subplot is an intriguing one and we wish we had more time spent to evaluate it.
Crimes of the Future does have its share of queasy moments, however, it might not be as nauseating as was promised. The gruesome aspects come from the operations Caprice performs on Saul. Although, even then these scenes aren’t horrific – unless you are terrified of organs. The brutal aspects come more from the child. These two segments of the Film aren’t for the faint of heart, but they do tie everything together.
Crimes of the Future screens at Cannes ’22:
Mon, May 23 at 9:30 PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue, May 24 at 12:00 PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue, May 24 at 7:00 PM at LICORNE
Tue, May 24 at 7:30 PM at SALLE BAZIN
Wed, May 25 at 12:30 PM at CINEUM IMAX
Thu, May 26 at 9:30 AM at CINEUM AURORE