|Crimes of the Future|
|Directed by||David Cronenberg|
|Written by||David Cronenberg|
|Edited by||Christopher Donaldson|
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Box office||$4.6 million|
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. 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. 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. 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.
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"
- Léa Seydoux as Caprice, Tenser's partner who can observe and tattoo his organs in his personal operating theatre
- Kristen Stewart as Timlin, an investigator with the National Organ Registry who takes a particular interest in Tenser
- Scott Speedman as Lang Dotrice
- Welket Bungué as Detective Cope
- Don McKellar as Wippet, an investigator with the National Organ Registry
- 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.
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". In April, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart were among the cast announced for the film. 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. In August 2021, Tanaya Beatty, Yorgos Karamihos, Nadia Litz and Yorgos Pirpassopoulos joined the cast of the film.
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. It dropped out of the box office top ten in its second weekend with $374,131.
Crimes of the Future was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on January 31, 2023, from Decal Releasing, Neon Films and Distribution Solutions.
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". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 55 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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." 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."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Saturn Awards||October 25, 2022||Best Science Fiction Film||Crimes of the Future||Nominated|||
|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|||
|Florida Film Critics Circle||December 22, 2022||Best Art Direction / Production Design||Crimes of the Future||Runner-up|||
|Toronto Film Critics Association||March 6, 2023||Rogers Best Canadian Film Award||Nominated|||
|Canadian Screen Awards||April 16, 2023||Best Director||David Cronenberg||Nominated|||
|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|||
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