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‘Crimes of the Future’ is Frustratingly Inert (Review)

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear – David Cronenberg’s ‘Crimes of the Future’ was my most anticipated film of the year.

To prepare for it, I rewatched ‘eXistenZ‘ and ‘Crash.’ Those turned out to be the two closest parallels in his oeuvre to this, but the concept here is better than the execution.

The storyline is frustratingly inert, succeeding mostly on the strength of the incredible cast.

Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux star in David Cronenberg's 'Crimes of the Future'
Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux star in David Cronenberg’s ‘Crimes of the Future’ (Neon)

Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux star as Saul and Caprice. In a strange not-so-distant future they’re performance artists. She’s a former trauma surgeon and Saul has the unique ability to form new organs in his body. Not just any organs, but unknown organs that may or may not serve an evolutionary purpose.

Enter Timlin (Kristen Stewart) and Wippet (Don McKellar), leaders of a national Organ Registry who are very interested in the duo’s public exhibitions where Caprice uses a modified autopsy machine to cut Saul open and put on a show.

We get visuals and tactile gadgetry very similar to what is used in ‘eXistenZ,’ but at a more glacial pace. The obsession with pain and modifications is what recalls Cronenberg’s far more controversial ‘Crash,’ but without as solid of a payoff. What all three films do have in common is an indelibly haunting score from Howard Shore.

All of the main actors are terrific, but Stewart in particular feels underutilized.

Maybe it’s that in 2022, Cronenberg’s wavelength doesn’t seem as shocking as it once was? The trailer (posted below) that Neon cut did get people talking. The final film itself doesn’t really push the limits. It actually tends to meander and commit the ultimate crime – for all its intended provocation, it’s often simply boring.

Crimes of the Future‘ is playing now in theaters nationwide.