Crimes of the Future (2022 film)

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Crimes of the Future
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Cronenberg
Written byDavid Cronenberg
Produced by
CinematographyDouglas Koch
Edited byChristopher Donaldson
Music byHoward Shore
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 23, 2022 (2022-05-23) (Cannes)
  • May 25, 2022 (2022-05-25) (France)
  • June 3, 2022 (2022-06-03) (Canada)
  • September 9, 2022 (2022-09-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
107 minutes
  • Canada
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Greece
Budget$27 million[1]
Box office$4.6 million[2][3]

Crimes of the Future is a 2022 science fiction body horror drama film written and directed by David Cronenberg. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.[4] It follows a performance artist duo (Mortensen and Seydoux) who perform surgery for audiences in a future where human evolution has accelerated for much of the population. Although the film shares its title with Cronenberg's 1970 film of the same name, it is not a remake as the story and concept are unrelated.[5] The film marked Cronenberg's return to the science fiction and horror genres for the first time since Existenz (1999).

An international co-production of Canadian, French, British and Greek companies, Crimes of the Future had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or and received a six-minute standing ovation.[6] The film received a theatrical release in France on May 25, 2022, opened in Canada on June 3, 2022, and had a same day limited release in the United States. It received generally positive reviews from critics.[7][8]


At an unspecified future date, significant advances in biotechnology led to the invention of machines and (analogue) computers that can directly interface with and control bodily functions, which have become the norm. Simultaneously, humankind itself has experienced several biological changes of indeterminate origin. Most significant among these changes is the disappearance of physical pain and infectious disease for an overwhelming majority (allowing for surgery to be safely performed on conscious people in ordinary settings), but other humans experience more radical alterations to their physiology. One of them, an eight-year-old boy named Brecken, displays the innate ability to consume and digest plastics as food. Convinced that he is inhuman, Brecken's mother smothers him with a pillow, leaving his corpse to be found by her ex-husband Lang.

Saul Tenser and Caprice are a world-renowned performance artist couple. They take advantage of Tenser's "accelerated evolution syndrome", a disorder that forces his body to constantly develop new organs, by surgically removing them before a live audience. The syndrome leaves Tenser in constant pain and with severe respiratory and digestive discomfort; he is consequently reliant on several specialized biomechanical devices, including a bed, a machine through which Caprice performs surgery on him, and a chair that twitches and rotates as it assists him with eating. Tenser and Caprice meet with bureaucrats in charge of the National Organ Registry, a governmental office designed to uphold the state's restrictions on human evolution by cataloging and storing newly evolved organs. One of the bureaucrats, the nervy Timlin, becomes captivated by Tenser's artistic goals. At a successful show of Tenser's, she tells him that "surgery is the new sex", a sentiment that Tenser and many other characters appear to embrace as repetitive cutting seems to be replacing traditional sex and masturbation as the preferred means of sexual gratification.

A governmental police unit seeks to use Tenser to infiltrate a group of radical evolutionists. Without telling Caprice, Tenser meets a series of contacts through other biological performance art shows that lead him to the evolutionist cell. One of them, former cosmetic surgeon Nasatir, creates a zippered cavern in Tenser's stomach, which Caprice uses to access Tenser's organs in an oral sex act where she fellates his zipper wound and presumably his internal organs while he moans in erotic pleasure. Caprice continues to network with other performance artists, eventually choosing to receive decorative cosmetic surgery on her forehead.

Tenser meets with Timlin, who reveals to him the agenda of the evolutionists: they have chosen to modify their digestive system to make them able to eat plastics and other synthetic chemicals. Their principal food is a purple processed "candy bar" of toxic waste, fatally poisonous to others. Lang is the leader of the cell; his son Brecken had been born with the ability to eat plastic, proving the inaccuracy of the government's critical stance on human evolution. Timlin tries to initiate sex with Tenser, but he says he is not good at "the old sex".

Tenser is eventually approached by Lang, who wants Tenser and Caprice to reveal the cell's anti-government agenda through a public autopsy of Brecken that will highlight his evolved digestive system. After some deliberation, Tenser agrees. With Timlin, Lang, and many others watching, Tenser performs the autopsy, but it is revealed that Brecken's natural organ system has been surgically replaced. Lang flees the show in tears. Outside, he is approached by two agents who supposedly work for the corporation that manufactures Tenser's biomedical machines. Mimicking their earlier killing of Nasatir, they assassinate Lang by driving power drills into his head. Tenser's connection within the police unit admits that Timlin replaced Brecken's organs to keep the deviation in human evolution secret from the public. Saddened by Brecken and Lang's deaths, Tenser informs the police that he will no longer serve them, approvingly mentioning the cell's beliefs on evolution.

Tenser struggles to eat in his chair. He asks Caprice to give him a bar of plastic. As Caprice records him, he eats it, looks into Caprice's camera, and sheds a tear. His mouth twitches into a smile as the chair finally quiets.


  • Viggo Mortensen as Saul Tenser, a man who grows new organs inside of his body as part of "Accelerated Evolution Syndrome"[9]
  • Léa Seydoux as Caprice, Tenser's partner who can observe and tattoo his organs in his personal operating theatre[9]
  • Kristen Stewart as Timlin, an investigator with the National Organ Registry who takes a particular interest in Tenser[9]
  • Scott Speedman as Lang Dotrice
  • Welket Bungué as Detective Cope
  • Don McKellar as Wippet, an investigator with the National Organ Registry[9]
  • Yorgos Pirpassopoulos as Dr. Nasatir
  • Tanaya Beatty as Berst
  • Nadia Litz as Dani Router
  • Lihi Kornowski as Djuna Dotrice
  • Denise Capezza as Odile
  • Sozos Sotiris as Brecken Dotrice
  • Tassos Karahalios as Klinek
  • Ephie Kantza as Adrienne Berceau
  • Jason Bitter as Tarr
  • Penelope Tsilika as Beauty spa woman


The film was a thriller set to begin production in early 2003 under the title Painkillers, which explored the world of performance art and took place in an anaesthetized society where pain is the new forbidden pleasure, and surgery and self-mutilation, being performed in public and on camera, have come to be regarded as the new sex. Ralph Fiennes was attached to star as Saul Tenser after Nicolas Cage, the first option for the main role, dropped out. It was intended to be shot in Toronto, Canada, on a budget of $35 million. ThinkFilm had picked up worldwide rights, with a scheduled release for late 2006 in North America. However, the project never entered production. In a mid-2000s interview, director David Cronenberg brushed the project aside, stating that it was not happening and that he had lost interest in making it anyway.[10]

In February 2021, during an interview with GQ magazine, Viggo Mortensen revealed that he was working on a project with Cronenberg, saying: "Yes, we do have something in mind. It's something he wrote a long time ago, and he never got it made. Now he's refined it, and he wants to shoot it. Hopefully, it'll be this summer we'll be filming. I would say, without giving the story away, he's going maybe a little bit back to his origins".[11] In April, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart were among the cast announced for the film.[12] Natalie Portman was initially supposed to play Seydoux's part (who initially was set to play Stewart's role), but she was unable to do the film because of conflicts related to COVID-19.[13] In August 2021, Tanaya Beatty, Yorgos Karamihos, Nadia Litz and Yorgos Pirpassopoulos joined the cast of the film.[14]

Principal photography began on August 2, 2021, and concluded on September 10, 2021 in Athens, Greece.[15][16]


Box office[edit]

Crimes of the Future grossed $2.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $2 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $4.5 million.

In the United States and Canada, the film earned $1.1 million from 773 theaters in its opening weekend, finishing tenth at the box office.[17] It dropped out of the box office top ten in its second weekend with $374,131.[18]

Home media[edit]

Crimes of the Future was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on January 31, 2023, from Decal Releasing, Neon Films and Distribution Solutions.[19]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 276 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Quintessential if not classic Cronenberg, Crimes of the Future finds the director revisiting familiar themes with typically unsettling flair".[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 55 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8]

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of Mortensen and Seydoux but concluded that the film "offers up more mysteries than it solves."[20] Todd McCarthy's review in Deadline Hollywood describes the film as "serious, elegant and provocative enough to cut it as an art film in the Cannes competition while also delivering the gross goods of body parts and exploitation film provocations. Not too many filmmakers can straddle the two, but Cronenberg still manages it pretty well."[21]

The film was named to the Toronto International Film Festival's annual year-end Canada's Top Ten list for 2022.[22]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Saturn Awards October 25, 2022 Best Science Fiction Film Crimes of the Future Nominated [23]
Best Music Howard Shore Nominated
Best Make-Up Alexandra Anger, Monica Pavez, and Evi Zafiropoulou Nominated
Directors Guild of Canada November 5, 2022 Best Direction in a Feature Film David Cronenberg Won [24]
Florida Film Critics Circle December 22, 2022 Best Art Direction / Production Design Crimes of the Future Runner-up [25]
Toronto Film Critics Association March 6, 2023 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award Nominated [26]
Canadian Screen Awards April 16, 2023 Best Director David Cronenberg Nominated [27]
Best Art Direction/Production Design Carol Spier Nominated
Best Cinematography Douglas Koch Nominated
Best Costume Design Mayou Trikerioti Nominated
Best Editing Christopher Donaldson Nominated
Best Sound Editing Robert Bertola, Tom Bjelic, Jill Purdy Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Ron Mellegers, Justin Helle, Christian Cooke, Mark Zsifkovits Nominated
Best Original Score Howard Shore Nominated
Best Makeup Alexandra Anger, Monica Pavez Won
Best Visual Effects Peter MacAuley, Kayden Anderson, Tom Turnbull, Caitlin Foster Won
Best Casting Deirdre Bowen Nominated
Golden Trailer Awards June 29, 2023 Best Original Score TV Spot (for a Feature Film) "Pain" (GrandSon Creative) Won [28]


  1. ^ Hertz, Barry (May 12, 2022). "Robert Lantos: Canada's one true movie mogul, and perhaps its last". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  2. ^ "Crimes of the Future". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  3. ^ "Crimes of the Future". The Numbers. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  4. ^ Squires, John (February 1, 2020). "Viggo Mortensen Teases Upcoming Horror Project That'll Bring David Cronenberg "Back to His Origins"!". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Laffly, Tomris (June 3, 2022). "Crimes of the Future".
  6. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 23, 2022). "David Cronenberg's 'Crimes Of The Future' Nabs Six-Minute Standing Ovation At Cannes World Premiere". Deadline Hollywood.
  7. ^ a b "Crimes of the Future". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Crimes of the Future (2022) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d White, James (May 8, 2022). "Surgery is the New Sex in the Trailer for David Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future". Empire.
  10. ^ Harris, Dana; Dunkley, Cathy (May 20, 2002). "Cronenberg, Lantos king of 'Pain'". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2002.
  11. ^ Paiella, Gabriella (February 1, 2020). "Viggo Mortensen on Falling and the Time He Was Found in the Woods as a Baby". GQ. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 29, 2021). "David Cronenberg Sets Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart For 'Crimes Of The Future;' NEON, Serendipity Point Firm Summer Start In Greece". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 29, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  13. ^ Mandilara, Tina (May 26, 2021). "Ντέιβιντ Κρόνενμπεργκ: Ο άνθρωπος που είχε "δει" την πανδημία από τη δεκαετία του '70 γυρίζει ταινία στην Αθήνα" [David Cronenberg: The man who had "seen" the pandemic since the 70s is shooting a film in Athens]. Proto Thema (in Greek).
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 3, 2021). "Cameras Roll On David Cronenberg Sci-Fi 'Crimes Of The Future' With Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart; More Cast Join". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 3, 2021. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  15. ^ Sharf, Zack (April 29, 2021). "David Cronenberg Returns: Sci-Fi Movie 'Crimes of the Future' Sets 30-Day Shoot in Greece". Indiewire. Archived from the original on July 16, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  16. ^ Ravindan, Manori (August 3, 2021). "David Cronenberg's Sci-Fi Movie 'Crimes of the Future' Begins Production in Greece". Variety. Archived from the original on August 3, 2021. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  17. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 22". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  18. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 23". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 19, 2022.
  19. ^ Prange, Stephanie (January 24, 2023). "Cronenberg's 'Crimes of the Future' Headed to 4K Ultra HD Jan. 31". Media Play News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  20. ^ Rooney, David (May 23, 2022). "Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux in David Cronenberg's 'Crimes of the Future': Film Review | Cannes 2022". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  21. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 23, 2022). "Cannes Review: David Cronenberg's 'Crimes Of The Future'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  22. ^ Pat Mullen (December 8, 2022). "Three Feature Docs Make Canada's Top Ten". Point of View.
  23. ^ Tinoco, Armando (August 12, 2022). "Saturn Awards Nominations: 'The Batman', 'Nightmare Alley', 'Spider-Man', 'Better Call Saul' Top List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  24. ^ Vlessing, Etan (September 23, 2022). "DGC Awards: 'Nightmare Alley,' 'Crimes of the Future,' 'Night Raiders' Lead Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter.
  25. ^ Neglia, Matt (December 14, 2022). "The 2022 Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Nominations". Next Best Picture. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  26. ^ Pat Mullen, "Toronto Film Critics Name All the Beauty and the Bloodshed Top Doc". Point of View, January 8, 2023.
  27. ^ "The 2023 Canadian Screen Award Nominees". Windsor International Film Festival, February 22, 2023.
  28. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 29, 2023). "Golden Trailer Awards: Cocaine Bear, Only Murders In The Building & Oppenheimer Among Top Winners – Full List". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 30, 2023. Retrieved June 30, 2023.

External links[edit]