“Crimes of the Future” is the most shocking film of the year

At Thursday night’s New York premiere of Crimes of the Future, controversial director David Cronenberg issued an ominous warning: “Maybe we’ll see each other at the end.”

Movie review

Running time: 107 minutes. Rated R (Highly disturbing violent content and gruesome imagery, graphic nudity and some speech.) In theaters.

“Maybe” is correct. His latest shocking film begins with a mother smothering her eight-year-old son with a pillow, which turned out to be one of the lighter scenes of the evening.

Later, during the many gruesome surgeries depicted, viewers’ hands flew up to shield their faces from the blood, organs and viscera that coated the screen. I sat in the front row, which was practically a splash zone. Two confused, squirming, squeaking women next to me must have gotten lost on their way to Top Gun: Maverick.

I can’t blame them. Cronenberg’s distorted vision of what’s to come makes Terminator’s technological apocalypse look like a Build-A-Bear workshop.

A sign inside "crimes of the future" announces "Surgery is the new sex!"
A character in Crimes of the Future proclaims, “Surgery is the new gender!”
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The imagery in "crimes of the future" is graphic and gory.
The imagery in “Crimes of the Future” is graphic and gory.
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The human body has evolved in a chaotic manner and has begun to develop invasive, non-functioning organs. Due to the changing world, a growing part of the population has decided to eat and metabolize plastic. People no longer feel pain or suffer from diseases (great!), so many people’s new kink is cutting themselves on street corners as a substitute for sex (puke!).

Borrowing a page from the singing strippers of “Gypsy” – “You’ve got to get yourself a gimmick!” – lead characters Saul (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux) have enterprisingly transformed the uncomfortable growths into performance art. Caprice will surgically excise a shapely mass from Saul’s body while a live audience takes photos. They are hotter than the MCU.

Operations become performance art.
Operations become performance art.
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Saul (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux, left) are medical performance artists "crimes of the future."
Saul (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux, left) are medical performance artists in Crimes of the Future.
Nikos Nikolopoulos/Serendipity Point Films

We hope all of these pretentious insults are meant to mock the sophisticated artists of our own world. Perhaps pale, black-hooded Saul is a stand-in for Tilda Swinton in a glass box at MoMA, or a Banksy drawing crushing itself. The tone of the film is dark throughout, however, and Mortensen called the film a “noir” in an interview.

A touch or two of humor comes from Kristen Stewart as Timlin, a clerk at the tiny National Organ Registry alongside her boss Wippet (Don McKellar). Humbly and with a much higher pitched voice than Stewart’s Princess Diana, Timlin hilariously casts her eyes at Saul as if he were more Harry Styles than a freak show. After one of his performances, she whispers to him: “Surgery is the new gender.”

It doesn’t get more dystopian than that.

A gnarled character has grown extra ears and is performing dances for the audience.
A gnarled character has grown extra ears and is performing dances for the audience.
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“Crimes” makes you gag a lot more than you giggle. Saul and Caprice lay naked and entwined on an operating table covered in bloody cuts with the inscription “Was it good for you?”. facial expressions. Saul, who is a medical mess, tries to force the liquid down his throat with the help of a chair that aligns his spine and esophagus. Mortensen always swallows while speaking, as if he’s throwing up.

If you’re not used to Cronenberg’s body horror style, which made him famous in the 1970s with films like “Shivers”, you might actually throw up.

Even more nausea sets in when the father (Scott Speedman) of smothered eight-year-old Saul asks to perform a public autopsy on the child. The little boy was a plastic eater and Dad wants to reveal that humanity has changed since the government is trying to hide this fact. They cut it open on an operating table that looks like a giant mummified acorn. The film fizzles out at the end.

The cool surgical instruments that marry engineering and living tissue are reminiscent of the director’s 1999 film eXistenZ. And Cronenberg’s imagery, chilling as it is, is characteristically striking.

There is trouble with “Crimes of the Future”, the audience has to take their hands off their eyes to see them.

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