“The Crimes of the Future”: Cronenberg with the scalpel

Veterans of international cinema, at regular intervals, like to unveil requiem-like fictions at the Cannes Film Festival in which they evoke themes that have obsessed them since the start of their careers. Last year, with “Benedetta”, Paul Verhoeven, 83, thus signed a kind of film-summary where, by drawing the portrait of the sulphurous and lesbian nun, he gave free rein to his fixed ideas concerning sexuality, the sacred, transgression. It is a project of the same kind that David Cronenberg, 79, is offering today with “The Crimes of the Future”.

In this destabilizing fiction, the Canadian filmmaker, author in the past of several monuments (“La Mouche”, “Faux-Semblants”, “Spider”) and to whom we will devote a long portrait on Friday May 27 in “Les Echos Week-End” , takes pleasure in bringing back to the profession themes that have always haunted his work: surveillance and paranoia, scientific manipulations, metamorphoses of the human body…

Discomfort and body art

In an undetermined future, after a probable ecological disaster that has devastated the planet, Caprice (Léa Seydoux) and Saul (Viggo Mortensen), a couple of avant-garde artists, engage in “body art” shows that arouse the fascination and discomfort of their admirers.

Goal of the game: to expose, after dissection, the mutations of the… organs of Saul, stricken by a mysterious illness and whose body is subject to incessant and unpredictable physiological upheavals. The duo’s shady activities are closely watched by a bizarre Office of the National Organ Registry and also attract the interest of an equally bizarre group of activists obsessed with the obsolescence of mankind…

In 1996, David Cronenberg, a filmmaker who has always hated consensus, sparked a historic scandal at the Cannes Film Festival by presenting “Crash”, his adaptation of the cult novel by J. G. Ballard where he filmed obsessive protagonists fascinated by car accidents and by the nuptials between Eros and Thanatos.

Twenty-six years later, the Canadian filmmaker once again risks provoking extreme reactions with “The Crimes of the Future”, a futuristic nightmare where the director, more “organic” than ever, leads the viewer into a disturbing meditation. A meditation, he says in his note of intent, on “the evolution of the human species and, more precisely, on the way in which we had to regain control of this evolution”.

gory and creaky

With its twisting plot, its dark humor and its great disturbing moments (in particular its scenes of artistic performances with a hypnotic and bewitching atmosphere), this new gore and radical opus will delight the unconditional fans of David Cronenberg who, by revisiting many of his previous works, signs a film more stimulating than the recent and disappointing “Cosmopolis” and “Maps to the Stars”.

Others should be warned: this fiction, fascinating for insiders, but undoubtedly esoteric for those who know nothing of the filmmaker’s career, is not a pleasant object and can even deeply disturb delicate souls. No one knows if the Cannes jury will be sensitive to the new experiments of the unclassifiable filmmaker, but one thing is certain, Cronenberg does not calm down over time.

The Crimes of the Future

Canadian Film – In Competition

by David Cronenberg.

With Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart.

1:47 a.m.

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“The Crimes of the Future”: Cronenberg with the scalpel

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