CRIMES OF THE FUTURE
June 18, 2022
Director David Cronenberg had predicted that part of the audience would leave the screening of his horror-drama-science fiction film in the first minutes of viewing it. Indeed, there is a lot to be uncomfortable with this “inside view” of the future transformation of the human body.
Crimes of the Future, a 2022 film by Canadian director David Cronenberg, produced through a Canadian-French-British-Greek collaboration, presented at the Cannes Festival for the Palmes d’Or competition in 2022.
In the not-too-distant future, the main character of the film, Saul Tenser, makes a living from performing in public, by showcasing for a paying public the growth of new body parts or tumors in his own body. This show is performed with the help of his former surgeon, now lover, Caprice.
The National Organ Registry, presumably a bureaucracy of the future, is following the proceedings and stands ready to intervene, although one of its public servants, female investigator Timlin, discovers there is a lot of sexual pleasure to be had in these public proceedings, a pleasure that she gladly experiences herself. Adding to the story, and loosely attached to the main plot, there is the murder of a young boy by his own mother, who fears an in-coming doom that would evolve from his unnatural appetite to eat plastic.
There are a few sub-plots, including the dead boy’s father who supports the biological mutations developing among humans. But the main ideas are all related to the transformations of the human body.
Predictably, a wide variety of interpretations have been offered to understand this decidedly strange film, a “futuristically retro twisted descent into madness” (Sara Michelle Fetters, in MovieFreak.com).
Is it about human mortality, “humankind’s inevitable annihilation” or “the vanishing of our environmental ecosystems?” asks Tomris Laffy in Roger Ebert.com.
Of course, several other interpretations could be entertained, for the film that may have “too many ideas (that) are left hanging” since there are many “vague, half-finished stabs at the notions of evolution (and) social disorder” (Tomris Laffy), as it “offers up more mysteries than it solves” (David Rooney, in The Hollywood Reporter).
THE MOVIE SHRINK’S TAKE
When there are many different interpretations for a given film, it is either because the film itself lacks unity, because we have not found it, or, then again, because it is closely tied to the director-creator’s imagination, without real social underpinnings. That may be the case here. In other words, Cronenberg’s film is best explained by Cronenberg’s imagination.
But there is another possible interpretation regarding this challenging film, according to The Movie Shrink.
It may have something to do about our collective changing view of the human body. It is no longer a sacred space. It can be manipulated, changed, or modified. It has become a question of mind over matter. Software has grown beyond hardware. Delivered from the sacredness of nature, we can choose what we will or what we want. We can now, for example, change our sexual identity, if our will is different from what nature has given us at birth. Mind over matter. Much like another recent and complex film at Cannes, Titane, the Palmes d’Or winner of 2021, where the female héroïne changes sexual identity to find love with the grieving father of a missing boy, after, that is, having intercourse with an automobile in the first part of the story. She does not lose blood, but leaks oil, during the pregnancy….
Thus, paradoxically, two difficult and challenging films shed light on one another, instead of creating confusion.