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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Crimes Of The Future

If We’re Gaining Excitement From Something, We’re Not Complaining

How nice would it be if we lived in a world where we no longer feel physical pain? The tightness, the swelling, the bruising, the aches, the exhaustion. To be in the driver's seat of our body and drive as fast as we want without collision. The idea is explored in David Cronenberg’s Crimes Of The Future and after much reflection, I’ll surrender that some ideas are best left to the mind.

In the not-so-distant future, many human beings are no longer experiencing physical pain and are learning to move beyond their natural state and alter their biological makeup. Some embrace the new changes while others attempt to destroy them. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) is an acclaimed performance artist who’s become a gardener of sorts within his own body. Regularly sprouting new unique organs that grow like plants, his partner Caprice (Lea Seydoux) surgically removes them in front of live audiences to showcase the limitless potential of human evolution.

A discrete organization called the National Organ Registry soon takes notice and sends in Timlin (Kristen Stewart) a young investigator who takes a particular interest in Tenser. Once the basics of Crimes Of The Future are laid out, it sort of loses all sense of direction for a plot and it just travels anywhere it wants. Much like the human body, the film can be reckless and unclear but that’s also part of its brilliance if you can let it alone. Letting it alone certainly isn’t possible for the three stars involved in this film, their performances rise above the story and leave you unable to turn away from every direction they pull you in.

Mortensen approaches Tenser as someone very willing to take risks for the purpose of making great art but he’s not reckless. Society is moving forward with or without everyone on the same page and he wants to see where it leads. The mental adjustments he’s had to make in getting used to his new body leaves him with a relatively quieter voice that Mortensen projects as if it’s his own. It’s soft but not shaky. Firm but not aggressive.

Seydoux’s Caprice is more cognizant of how extreme the world is becoming and leaves the art part of the equation to Tenser as she focuses on science. A former trauma surgeon, she sees how scars can now instantly repair themselves, and being surgically worked on feels like a deep tissue body massage. She works with caution and sublime focus as she listens to Tenser moan in euphoria as she uses a device that removes multiple new organs from his stomach. That amazement you feel when getting a massage that you never want to end, that’s what surgery and everything that was once pain now feels like.

Kristen Stewart is the most animated of the three and speaks as though she’s struggling to find her breath. I think it’s no secret that that’s how Stewart usually talks but it especially makes sense for Crimes Of The Future because Timlin constantly corners Tenser like a Hannah Montana fangirl. There’s just this strange kind of mid-2000s Disney channel vibe that Timlin gives off. I don’t know if that’s the vibe Stewart saw in Timlin or if she came up with it herself but she makes her complex in that she’s funny and frightening and philosophical all at once. She’s set out to contextualize what the world is gradually becoming and she’s not interested in waiting for the answers both professionally and physically.

Timlin: Can I ask you something intimate?

Tenser: Yeah, go ahead.

Timlin: Surgery is sex isn’t it?

Tenser: Is it?

Timlin: You know it is. Surgery is the new sex.

Tenser: Does it have to be NEW sex?

Timlin: YES. Yes, it’s time. When I was watching Caprice cut into you, I wanted…

Saul: Yes?

Timlin: I wanted you to be cutting into me. That’s what I knew.

Everything always feels exciting when it’s new. Maybe it’s because we as a society are so bored or maybe it just makes us feel safer. People are always afraid of something they don’t understand but if we can gain excitement from something, we’re not complaining. Even Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, or Kristen Stewart admitted to not fully understanding the script when they read it but it was just too compelling a story for them not to try and explore.

“Every bleeding hurting bruise makes my mouth open,” Stewart said in an interview for the film when it premiered at Cannes last month. “I want to lean towards it, it just never repulses me.”

Cronenberg generally makes very strange, weird, complex films. That’s just what he’s known for. His visions for his films are very conservative but in very liberal ways. I’d say that Crimes Of The Future is like an innocent tiny child. It asks way too many questions because it’s just too curious not to but the answers are so complex that they're never revealed. Or maybe they are. Maybe we’re just not evolved enough to understand them. Maybe we’re not evolved enough to see or sense what’s really coming. Maybe it’s better that we don’t know. We’re bound to find out. Eventually.

Squires, J. (2022, May 20). 'crimes of the future' clips and character posters introduce ear man, Kristen Stewart and more. Bloody Disgusting! Retrieved June 14, 2022, from

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