Cronenberg’s newest body-horror is sick – and not in a good way

Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) has a problem, but he has chosen to take it as a gift. Plagued by a recently discovered disease known as Accelerated Evolution Syndrome, his body is constantly producing new and inexplicable internal organs – which must be excised for his survival.

Instead of letting things degenerate, however, he sells tickets to the surgeries he and his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), a former trauma surgeon, stage as elaborate performance artworks. They’re far from the only show in this not-too-distant dystopian city: live surgical acts pop up everywhere, like a mix of poetry parlors and Victorian anatomy lectures. But Saul’s novel body parts give the pair the creative edge, and the two have become celebrities in their fields. Call it “living on the fat of the gland.”

One has to wonder if David Cronenberg, the incubator of such monstrosities as Videodrome, The Fly and Crash, sees Saul as something of a kindred spirit. And Crimes of the Future, which premiered in competition tonight in Cannes, certainly feels introspective in more ways than one. It sees the 79-year-old Canadian champion return to a streak of open-body horror he’s strayed from since 1999’s eXistenZ; It’s also his first fully self-created project since, with no independent scriptwriter or pre-existing source material to build on.

The film shares a title with one of his earliest works, nothing else. Gurgling on his own nightmare logic. It delivers the kind of anesthetized grotesque any fan will hope for – a typical tableau pans over Mortensen and Seydoux, lolling naked on a plinth while being gently slashed open by biomechanical scalpels. Before the festival, Cronenberg predicted that some viewers would be running for the exits within the first five minutes, and at the film’s first showing he was proved right. The film begins with a mother smothering her eight-year-old son, Brecken, who, like Saul, is an organ bringer: blessed with a neo-digestive system capable of pulling food out of plastic.

The poor boy’s father (Scott Speedman) is a member of a cult that has been trying to bring about this very evolutionary change and wants Saul and Caprice to use the boy’s corpse in their act to bring about a public moment of triumph. In the meantime, there’s the inner beauty pageant to prepare for – a surgical Oscar of sorts, with Saul seen as the front-runner for best original organ – as well as the attention of various mysterious parties.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/crimes-future-review-cronenbergs-newest-body-horror-sick-not/ Cronenberg’s newest body-horror is sick – and not in a good way


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