Home News Crimes of the future is Cronenberg’s latest warning to humanity – Francesco Boille

Crimes of the future is Cronenberg’s latest warning to humanity – Francesco Boille

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Crimes of the future is Cronenberg’s latest warning to humanity – Francesco Boille

24 maggio 2022 15:53

After the highly entertaining satire by Ruben Östlund, the elbow-to-elbow projection of the new feature by 79-year-old David Cronenberg and South Korea’s Park Chan-wook gave the competition a further jolt, albeit both films, but above all. the second, they may have irritated some because the vision may be a little complicated. However, they are complications, a bit like those of a detective story, which the more you tackle and deepen them, the more the charm and depth of the two films increases.

But it’s Crimes of the future by Cronenberg to stand out clearly. The Canadian master, after eight years of absence from the big screen, makes a very strange operation: he reuses the title of his second film, made in 1970, even with the explicitly stated intention not to make a remake of it. Yet he unearths a title from the past of his youth that contains the word future. It seems emblematic for an artist considered prophetic on the becoming body of the machine and, as in a mirror, on the becoming machine of the human body. Just as it seems to suggest a secret meaning. There will be a way to be more detailed at the time of the theatrical release but it is clear the intention to reconnect (after several years in which his cinema had changed to a more realistic register) at the moment in which he was born artistically, with the horror and science fiction – albeit atypical – initially in very small productions and which seemed to have ended with existence (1999).

This continuous change of his, and also on a reversible modality, should not come as a surprise since no director more than him has put mutation at the center of his art as a central question of contemporary civilization, of its (non) becoming.



In truth Crimes of the future version 2022 has important similarities to its 1970 “ancestor”, including a pervasive virus. We pass from the clinic of the dermatologist Adrian Tripod and his “creative cancer”, where tumors and related organs were removed in a continuous jet, to the artist Saul Tenser, played by Viggo Mortensen, who makes new organs grow inside his own body as part of the “accelerated evolution syndrome” – a rampant disease that causes constant mutations – as moments of performance art. All in a neo-medieval world struck by the climatic catastrophe: Tenser himself, with his head almost always covered, has clothing that is halfway between a leper and a monk. The shows that the audience witnesses are chilling and hypnotic at the same time. The performative concept expressed by Tenser which consists in discovering and removing the mutant parts of his body in front of the public – assisted by his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux) who manages to observe and tattoo his organs – is a real “ideology”. The last one. That of the body now emptied of meaning or, as said in the film, of all its “signifiers”, the fundamental terminology of critical analysis on art.

This chaos of forms in which a zombie world is desperately trying to put some order into it is fascinating

It is a “body-art” – symbolically a vital art – which here is confused with an organicity in mutation that is inseparable from putrefaction, in other words from death. And this is true from the start, with a child’s body.
There are many echoes to the director’s work, but in this strange, unadorned yet suggestive dimension, we are on the side of the adaptation of The naked meal by William Burroughs, from Tangier located in a parallel world, “other”.

The artist goes back to his own art and tells us that humanity has already consumed the crime against itself. The self-referential dimension has a profound meaning here. It’s like the last warning. Maybe we are already dead and we don’t notice it. We can’t help but read and look at things from when we were dying but still alive. Here we eat plastic as in the world, the real one and not the one transfigured in the cinema by Cronenberg, people seem like formats watching toy films, plastic films. As for eroticism, for Cronenberg there remains only the vivisection of mutations of death, not of life. Inevitably claustrophobic, this chaos of forms in which a zombie world desperately tries to put some order is fascinating.

Cronenberg talks about herself, about her art, about Hollywood, the great commodifier and murderer of art, that is, about herself (the secret police of the National organ registry). And in doing so she talks about us all as never before perhaps. And like no one else has ever done it better before. For the first time and perhaps the last.



Decision to leave by Park Chan-wook gives us a vital film by a director who many believed by now had fallen into the abyss of sadism in a manner and an end in itself. And here it is a precipice, in the high mountains.

A wealthy businessman falls from a mountain cliff and a police detective must decide whether the young Chinese wife is suspected of murder or whether it really is an accident. At each new interrogation it is not who undergoes it who staggers but who manages it: the rigor fades and a mysterious feeling of loving attraction of the detective towards the woman slowly makes its way until it overflows. Nonetheless, it is the visual work and the editing that make the real storytelling and in a surprising way: almost every shot of this film focused on gaze and “seeing” the characters always reveal themselves located elsewhere (or maybe not). A disturbing and surprising elsewhere, always different but perhaps always the same. I am in front of a large window – a recurring motif in the film – and a moment later the action resumes in another place, another window, all managed with remarkable, almost hypnotic mastery. It is almost a moving, a sliding between different doors of reality and fiction.

A certain length is forgiven if one accepts to enter this sort of hallucinated vision hidden in the folds of the most classic realism imbued with Hitchcock but also, on the visual level, certainly classic South Korean cinema: the atmospheres are perhaps the most beautiful thing and reach the apogee on the cliffs, in the middle of the sea water whose jets among the rocks give the color palette an almost pastel dimension, definitively sealing the strongly dreamlike dimension of the film. The impression of a great dream.

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On the other hand, the one who is not dreamlike at all is the Swedish Ruben Östlund in his excellent satire on capitalism and the bourgeoisie of Triangle of sadness. His cinema does not always manage to give depth to the image as it would like and ends up being made of the same paste as the object of criticism, that is the glossy and substanceless world of today’s society, as we had already written from Cannes 2017 for the his previous feature film, The squarewinner of the Palme d’Or.

Here the director, in an increasingly fun crescendo, manages to create a single bonfire of fashion, influencers, liberalism, the bourgeoisie, class struggle, gender equality. A cruise of the rich ends first in farce – the collective vomiting caused by a storm – then in tragedy by a shipwreck which is ultimately just another farce, as this postmodern society is now incapable of embodying true tragedy. The highlight is probably the dialectical battle over Marx and Lenin between the American anarchist commander of the ship, beautifully played by Woody Harrelson, and the cynical but likeable Russian tycoon. The real problem, however, is power, ultimately, which distorts the nature of man. And of the woman.

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