Tuesday 24 May 2022

Cannes 2022 - Crimes of the Future by David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg returning to full blown body horror, a subgenre he is arguably one of the most famous representatives of and with a star cast, reuniting with Viggo Mortensen and with Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart joining his universe, it sure did not get more exciting than that. His style has been copied by so many, including his own son who does not seem to be able to get out of his shadow so there was the risk of him retreating too familiar grounds, perhaps even delivering a self-parody... yet we should not have worried!

Set in an undefined future that is at once more advanced than us, with humanity having transcended pain and people randomly growing new organs with unclear functions, yet also derelict in many ways, it is immediately impressive how this universe feels both old and new, the tone in particular. His preoccupations remain but here the new flesh is not to be feared, more to be embraced and there is an unexpected tenderness we have not seen in his previous films, certainly not his horror ones. 

The story feels very much character driven and Léa Seydoux is a wonderful addition to his world, embracing the strangeness of it all and adding an unexpected emotional side. A scene in which herself and Viggo Mortensen embrace in a high-tech bed while robotic arms are making some small laser lacerations epitomises what Crimes of the Future is all about. Kristen Stewart in a supporting part is as surprising as she is impressive, playing a kind of mousy civil cervant/femme fatale who moves like a praying mantis!

Being a Greek co-production means the shot was moved to Greece as opposed to his usual Canada (in which he made wonders of some of the cities's architecture) and he has made the most of it. All the external shots were filmed in and around Athens and he had the knack some find some derelict and wonderfully atmospheric part of the cities to conjure up a world that feels timeless and echoes the universe of a very particular kind of '80s French science-fiction graphic novels like those of Enki Bilal.

A return to some familiar themes and universe that feels fresh and new, Crimes of the Future exceeds all expectations.

Review by Laurent De Alberti

Star rating: 

Official Selection, In Competition

Crimes of the Future. Canada/Greece UK 2022. Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Léa Seydoux, Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart...

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