Crimes of the Future review: Cronenberg body horror is strangely fascinating

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“Surgery is the new sex,” Kristen Stewart purrs seductively in Viggo Mortensen’s ear: this is definitely a movie from renowned body horror director David Cronenberg, who shocked the world with his 1996 car sex flick Crash.

The futuristic sci-fi is set in a dizzying dystopia where the performance art consists of removing growths in front of an audience, and many of them seem to enjoy it. Viggo plays Saul Tenser, a celebrity in the underground art world, who submits to the tender sculpting of his surgeon/partner Caprice (Bond star Léa Seydoux).

He also sleeps in a bed that looks like an alien object, which responds to his pain.

Stewart is Timlin, a smartly dressed bureaucrat/surgeon who gets visibly turned on by poking around inside Saul’s body. Yeah, they’re all surgeons in this place.

This is a strange world where many people don’t feel pain, and some are spontaneously developing new body parts that can evolve and change their behavior. Most characters watch this ‘new vice’, exploit it, or both.

Like all of Cronenberg’s work, it’s surprising, oddly fascinating, and not for everyone: there were dropouts at the Cannes screenings, especially during a haunting autopsy scene.

It’s not a deeply satisfying film, nor is it Cronenberg’s best work, but it has a tangible atmosphere, an excellent cast, and something to think about, even if you might not want to eat first.

What is Crimes of the Future about?

Kristen Stewart's Future Crimes Trailer

The film has proven divisive (Image: Neon)

Cronenberg’s latest body horror follows a pair of world-renowned performance artists in a climate-ravaged world.

A synopsis reads: ‘Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations.

‘With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrated performance artist, publicly displays the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.’

Joining Kristen and Viggo in the cast are Lea Seydoux, Scott Speedman, Yorgos Karamihos and Tanaya Beatty.

It will reportedly launch in the US on June 3, but does not yet have a UK release date.

How has the reception of Crimes of the Future been?

david chronenberg

Cronenberg predicted the strikes (Image: Getty Images)

The film has already been divisive, drawing dropouts within the first five minutes, as well as a standing ovation, at Cannes.

However, the strikes were not unexpected, as Cronenberg predicted them before the screening.

“There are some very strong scenes,” he said, “I mean, I’m sure we’re going to have strikes in the first five minutes of the movie.” I’m sure of that.

“Some people who have seen the film have said that they think the last 20 minutes will be very hard on people and that there will be a lot of strikes. One guy said he almost had a panic attack,” he added to Deadline.

Crimes of the Future does not yet have a UK release date.

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