Crimes of the Future (2022) Spoiler-Free Review
My only regret about listing David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future (2022) as #6 on my 10 To Watch in 2022 list is that I should’ve placed it higher. Either way, the list still hasn't missed. I’m fresh out of the theater, and I think it’s fair to say Cronenberg is BACK, baby! There’s so much to appreciate about this film, but overall, it’s just a ton of fun to see the Canadian auteur back in the sci-fi body-horror genre his thematic obsessions really thrive in.
As with Cronenberg’s Crash, Existenz, Videodrome, The Fly (I could go on), themes of technology and bodily transformation are as present here as they’ve ever been. Set in a climate-ravaged dystopia where people have grown so desensitized (emotionally and physically) that the very concept of pain seems to have all but disappeared, the film is centered around Saul and Caprice. As performance artists, their shows frequently involve Caprice surgically removing new organs Saul’s Accelerated Evolution Syndrome causes him to grow. This concept is rich for mining, and Cronenberg doesn’t hold back. Handling themes spanning from climate change to the way art and pain interact in a constantly-numb world, this movie definitely manages to juggle a lot.
This means there was a lot of exposition, resulting in a few scenes where the dialogue got a bit overly-philosophical and explanatory (a penchant of Cronenberg’s), BUT I honestly think the writing works within the context of the film. Maybe that just speaks to the stunning performances given by the actors. Kristen Stewart really embodied her role of Timlin, giving us a career-highlight of twitchy creepiness. Léa Seydoux’s powerful yet subtle portrayal of Caprice has the emotional range we've come to expect from her, and Viggo Mortensen's as legendary as ever in the leading role. It’s not easy to act as if you’re in pain, but Mortensen managed to make me uncomfortable (in the best way) anytime he was onscreen. The acting was also further highlighted by the crew who worked on this movie. Costume, set and sound design were all superb, really drawing us into the weird world this film takes place in; and don’t even get me started on that score. Simply amazing stuff.
I feel like if fifty people were to watch this movie, they’d each come away with a different thing they appreciated about it. While being so wildly expansive in its scope, Crimes of the Future still manages to get its themes to interact in a clear and insightful way, tying social alienation to climate catastrophe, resulting in a whole new type of human, a whole new type of world if we don’t act fast. In this way, Cronenberg's return can be seen as a kind of call to action which, like all art, is inherently political. This is easily one of my favorite releases of the year, up there with Everything Everywhere All At Once! I can’t wait to re-watch; couldn’t recommend this movie more strongly!