Crimes of the Future Review
Crimes of the Future (2022) Film Review, a movie written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Tanaya Beatty, Lihi Kornowski, Denise Capezza, Don McKellar, Nadia Litz, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Welket Bungue, Ephie Kantza, Jason Bitter and Sozos Sotiris.
David Cronenberg is a legendary filmmaker. His 1988 film, Dead Ringers, was simply a masterpiece and remains one of the most interesting, daring pieces of dramatic cinema of all-time. 2005’s A History of Violence (starring Viggo Mortensen and William Hurt) was yet another amazing piece of movie-making that served as one of Cronenberg’s most astonishingly perfect films. In between the two aforementioned movies was a picture released in the U.S. in 1997 called Crash. That film was about people who get sexually aroused by car crashes and the picture turned out to be a baffling, yet fascinating movie that actually worked despite its shortcomings.
Cronenberg’s latest, Crimes of the Future, is closer to Crash from a thematic standpoint than any of the director’s other films. It doesn’t quite work, however. It’s a disappointment but certainly not for a lack of trying. This picture is incredibly focused and deals with its themes rather intelligently. It just feels unfortunately flat due to the mediocre acting and the subdued direction by Cronenberg which could have and should have been spiced up by the great Howard Shore’s musical score which is grossly underused. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of risky scenes here such as when a man with multiple ears is presented on screen. These offbeat sequences just don’t add up to a coherent whole that sufficiently entertains.
Viggo Mortensen plays Saul Tenser, a performance artist who, along with his partner Caprice (the always formidable Lea Seydoux), becomes immersed in a complex, bizarre world where their actions will prove to have overwhelming consequences for all involved. This film opens with a boy eating a garbage pail and being strangled by a woman who seems to be his mother. These scenes immediately hook the viewer in. However, when the movie finally introduces us to Saul and Caprice, it reveals a series of underdeveloped scenarios which make the film feel like a rough cut more than a finished product. I can’t emphasize how much Shore’s score needed to be interwoven throughout key scenes in the movie to make it more watchable.
In Crimes of the Future, Scott Speedman plays the type of role that Elias Koteas played in Crash. As Lang Dotrice, Speedman commands the viewer’s attention when he comes on screen but his character never fully comes to life and fails to live up to audience expectations. Whereas Koteas’ character in the 1997 film propelled the plot forward, Speedman’s brings the action to a halt for a bit before eventually leading the story to its unsettling climax. Koteas’s character worked in that other picture. Speedman’s remains a conception which needed more development.
It would be helpful to mention the basic premise of the movie even though it is absolutely strange beyond a reasonable doubt. Saul grows new organs that are removed at shows and presented for viewers for reasons I couldn’t really understand. I never fully grasped why car crashes were causing people to have sex in Crash but the acting in the picture commanded the audience’s attention at all times. Here, the acting doesn’t really reel the viewer into the action. Though both deliver fine turns in their own right, Mortensen and Seydoux are not at their absolute best but it’s hardly their fault. The movie moves slowly and although it picks up at given intervals, the pacing is rather sluggish. The graphic scenes exist but didn’t make me wince all that much.
The addition of Kristen Stewart’s character to the film was an interesting choice. Stewart serves as Timlin, a character who becomes obsessed with Saul and tries to seduce him in one of the film’s most ambitious scenes. Unfortunately, this sequence is played all wrong by Stewart and Mortensen and is more awkward than anything else. Both performers needed to sharpen their dialogue delivery here which would have, in turn, made the scene more believable.
A concept known as “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” is at the core of the plot and is the hook the film showcases to the audience. It involves growing new organs and Timlin is the assistant of Wippet (Don McKellar, surprisingly bland), the head of the National Organ Registry. Timlin and Wippet become immersed in the action of the picture but their characters feel underwritten and the film suffers all the more as a result. We know these characters are fascinated by what is going on with Saul but the audience doesn’t fully understand what Timlin and Wippet truly hope to achieve.
Crimes of the Future isn’t totally unbearable to watch. It’s just lacking in terms of cinematic depth and creatively satisfying acting. Mortensen and Seydoux are able to overcome their character’s disappointing traits almost enough to make them somewhat understandable. However, they are never truly likable. It’s hard for Cronenberg to make us fully care about the future of their predicament through his lackluster direction which could have been more sufficient with the prominent use of a musical score in the background of some key scenes, as previously stated.
I’ll be honest. If you are a science fiction fan, you could become more involved with the complexity of the movie. Cronenberg’s pictures usually go all the way with their premises and Crimes of the Future spares the audience a truly satisfying closing scene. Crash had me pondering the unusual nature of the premise at the end and left me in awe. This new film left me feeling absolutely nothing. I wanted more substance. Of course, Cronenberg’s new movie is meant to make viewers think. It uses its characters as vessels to present complicated themes and the film could inspire some conversations between movie-goers afterwards. However, it feels like the more likely scenario will be one where movie-goers are left scratching their heads and wondering “what was that all about?” This is an ambitious effort but it needed to have a more dramatic edge to go along with the shock value the movie presents to the audience in an underwhelming fashion.
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