Crimes of the Future: A Movie Review

I saw it, and reviewed it. Mixed review from me.

Crimes of the Future: A Movie Review

The cinema industry is doing poorly, and buying some food and a drink with your ticket is the best way to support them. That's where the profits are for the cinema people.

I used to smuggle in half-bottles of whisky with friends, and mix them with cinema-bought drinks. The cinemas were doing fine, and most didn't offer alcoholic beverages. It brought us to the movie theatre at the weekend in our twenties, and was fun at the time. We were quiet and respectful audience members, who happened to be drunk and seeing things through a slightly different lens by the third act.

For Cronenberg's new movie, I have one suggestion:

Skip all food.

I made a tremendously bad choice of purchasing cheesy nachos. After a half hour battle of trying to look away from the screen to eat a nacho, I gave up and left them on the floor.

Which to be fair, is still financial support, and it's not the same thing as wasting meat. But, it was certainly a mistake I would not like you, dear reader, to repeat.

Crimes of the Future is like a weird hybrid Cronenberg/Cronenberg movie. It has all the grotesque body horror of his classic films, but feels like his more recent movies in tone.

It is not a bad Cronenberg movie, but I am also not sure it is a good movie. The bits that are like his recent movies are not good, in most ways (dull, overlong, superficially philosophical, muddy). The bits that are like his past movies are good, in some ways (though they feel slightly askew). That is the best way I can describe it. It makes for a movie that is in some ways great, but does not leave you feeling like you just saw a good movie.

I think this is a movie you have to judge as a Cronenberg movie, and not just a movie. This can happen (see the late, great Godard, for example).

Hopefully that gives you a feel for what to expect. A slightly confused mess from a ridiculously talented artist at the end of his career. Like a "I'll do one more like that" entry to his filmography.

The concept is fascinating. Humans have lost their capacity to feel pain, except for a few, who experience pain in sleep. Humans also no longer suffer from infections. Some are growing mutated organs, which some consider tumours, and some consider art. As if the human body is trying to evolve into a better form.

In this world "surgery is the new sex," and this is performed (with sexual overtones) in art exhibitions, some of which are underground. Since people can no longer feel pain, and don't have to worry about infections from surgery, this is how it goes. People dance with a hundred ears appended to their bodies, though those ears don't actually hear. Or, groan with pleasure as they are having new organs removed.

Almost all characters feel perverse and unsettling, which is certainly the aim. Creeps are abound, of both the male and female varieties, with one or two in lesser roles giving some grounding.

The government is trying to regulate things, and take control of the new human situation in a halfhearted way. There is a cultural war between humans who have had surgery performed on them to replace their digestive systems to eat "modern," plastic-based foods that look like chocolate bars.

Narratively, this could have only come from Cronenberg.

It is nice typing that, because I wouldn't say the same for many of his recent movies - which have a distinctive style, but aren't as tied to what he was known for. Weird and creepy body horror that tried to speak to its time, and often made profound statements.

You will remember this movie. And, the story is conceptually interesting.

Oddly, the viewing experience for me oscillated between being grossed out, repulsed, rolling my eyes, and then feeling bored and wanting to leave the cinema to save time. There were moments of interest, and being pulled into the movie's world. I stayed until the end. I do understand this is cinema that aims to unsettle the viewer, and make them feel uncomfortable. I felt bored, like I was being shown something trite and false.

The world building is the best quality of this movie, and has a science fiction feel that is done in non-obvious ways, and which I think few if any other directors can do. There are snippets of interesting philosophical thought in the script (mixed in with garbage). There is a world built that feels very real, and shows the genius of Cronenberg.

Would I recommend it? If you're a Cronenberg fan, or the story captures your imagination, give it a shot. It will be a suitably weird Cronenberg experience in the cinema that you might not get the chance to have again.

Do not purchase food.


James Lanternman writes movie reviews, short fiction, essays, and moonlit thoughts. Reach him at [email protected], or follow on Twitter.