Crimes of the Future (2022) - 6/10
I don’t know much about the premise of this going in, but it’s a Cronenberg film, so you know what to expect. At least you do if you’re a fan and I am. Scanners, Crash, Videodrome, there’s a long list of great grungy films to this man’s directorial role call. That said, the last few films haven’t quite hit the heady heights of his earlier output, so my expectations are a little lower. Humans are adapting. Some are ready for this evolution. Some are not. Saul (Viggo Mortensen) is embracing it, in his own way. His body creates new hormones, new organs, new possibilities. Together with Caprice (Léa Seydoux) he’s experimenting and experiencing, this new, largely desolate, quiet and lonely existence in a decrepit industrial world. These changes have panicked authorities. Pain and infections are no longer common. That sounds great but has implications. It forces people like Saul into the fringes of what seems to be a sparsely populated world, with flies constantly buzzing around. That said, he and Caprice are famous. They’re performance artists. Performing live surgery to crowds. Cutting out what Saul sees as tumours that would kill him, whilst making a living. That’s the premise. The struggle between fluidly shifting societies. Those looking to police things, those who see it all as art and those trying to make sense of it all somewhere in between. On one hand it’s all a bit philosophical, but that’s not really the pull here. The pull is body horror. Live autopsies are only going to mean one thing in a Cronenberg film. Gore. Gore soundtracked by a pulverising electronic score. It’s a bit base level, but it’s undeniably the core of this film. These scenes have drive and a morbid fantastic energy about them, with creature like machines cutting into bodies. The rest of the film feels a bit slow, laborious and pretentious. Aside Mortensen the acting is pretty subpar. A lot is asked of him to carry this and he’s not bad, but I don’t think it’ll be in his top ten performances. There’s certainly an interesting idea here and there’s just enough of a story arc to keep things mildly interesting, but there’s a lot of issues. Not least plenty of needless and gratuitous female nudity. There is a lot of sexuality and voyeurism in Crimes of the Future though, again this isn’t a huge surprise with Cronenberg. He seems to like cutting things and putting things into other things. It all generally starts well, a smash of art and bureaucracy, but it loses its way and for a large portion of the second act it pretty much falls apart as it loses steam. It does regain some coherence in its finale, remarkably so in fact. With a mutation that although extreme, makes sense and has a purpose. It’s very stylish, looks and sounds great, but it falls short almost everywhere else. Which is odd as it seems to borrow so much from other Cronenberg films. Worth a watch, but don’t expect too much.