Cannes #75 - "Crimes of the Future"
“Where is the art in tumorous growth?”, wonders a perplexed character in David Cronenberg’s latest cinematic fatigue, pretty much paraphrasing what the viewers are thinking while watching Crimes of the Future. To which, the protagonists simply reply, giggling: “it’s the deeper meaning, plus the response it generates in the audience.” And it is this very audience reaction that Cronenberg is desperately chasing.
Crimes of the Future was meant to be Cronenberg’s triumphant return to his old school roots, going back to the visceral body horror that made him an iconic director 40 years ago. But unfortunately for him, we’re not in the ‘80s anymore, and what he promised to be visually disturbing is nothing particularly shocking today. The anticipated walkouts during the screening did happen, not out of disgust for the visual gore, but rather for the insufferable nature of a ridiculous film that tries so hard to be extreme just for the sake of it.
After gaining sexual pleasure through smashing up cars in Crash, Cronenberg turns his violent kink to surgery. Yes, this is a film about inner beauty, on a very literal sense, where the scalpel is the new dildo. Viggo Mortensen plays a performance artist whose act consists of his partner, played by Lea Seydoux, publicly removing tumours from his body. Tumours that are genetic mutations, in the shape of new organs with unknown purpose. The bigger the tumour, the wider the artistic recognition, and its consequent orgasm while being sliced- of course. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Naturally, to explain this bizarre universe with its very own rules, there is a constant flow of gibberish exposition. It really feels like we’re in the fantasy of a troubled kid with a huge budget. I don’t know about crimes of the future, but this picture certainly accomplishes a crime against cinema.