Quick-Thoughts: David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future (2022)

“Sexier means easier funding.”

“Crimes of the Future” is a title that nearly every one of David Cronenberg’s socially-minded body outputs thus far could’ve slipped themselves into – one in fact even did near the very beginning of the auteur’s illustrious career – but perhaps this now recently adapted 20-year-old script, initially scrapped right before his career began mutating into strict drama narratives, is the most earned of the name as an irony of it. See, these are quote on quote “crimes” of the future, but they are also meant to speak for quite literally the crimes of forever, the cumulative crimes built from all humanity. The film is disguised to be about a beginning in an end, and then confesses to really be about a fragment of a prolonged beginning never reaching an end. Essentially, there is no future here as the favored word has been glorified to insinuate, just a future in its verbatim of wanting one; if there is a crime of the future, it’s that it has no greater future, just a genetic habit that only helps obscure it: to control our own evolution but not OUR evolution. The dependable world-building that Cronenberg uses to depict this alone feels like something he’s been dying to make his entire career, but one not ready for such until the longer observed aging of his body could feed him the information he needed to get this story right. In doing so, the face-value crime of what we see in his sci-fi is not necessarily sworn as one to him, but more so as something he’s accepted as fact. There’s barely a cautionary thesis to this like his previous body-horror endeavors. If anything, the thesis is “let it be”. It’s as if he’s decided to drop the “horror” and leave the “body”. 

As you may have figured, Crimes of the Future cuts close into human history: politics often come after rash experimenting, thus engineering the neverending failure of them leading to a utopia. Big idealistic changes don’t happen because we’re too busy independently publicizing other impulsive changes of our own in a world not yet constructed for them out of governments that will always at first be rigged against them due to inherent totalitarianism towards the citizen. At the same time though, if this truly is the indestructible machine of our order, aren’t all we have as a mass population of society then these tools to rebel through our personal change even if it’s what encourages this bottomless pit? Agh!

One of the key arcs Cronenberg implements to communicate this cycle resides in how he explores how art is often redefined by the artist from propagation to be more confident in their ambition in wake of their passiveness being viewed as perhaps no longer a form of attraction. Beauty is then also deconstructed: we’re not just getting tattoos now to stimulate our lust for physique further; the possibilities to mutilate it have become endless with the removal of pain from the body, and they’re all contenders for the market to covet over. Is glamorized celebrity power of those who make these bodily renovations though the hand that makes us see them as a segregated and superior species among us? Our new creators? Pleasure has always mimicked pain, so is sex too becoming diversified enough now to the point where it can be whatever it wants so long as it evokes similar origins to something that’s now been ridiculed in this future? 

A utopia, let alone a dystopia, will always be a figment of our imagination as options such as these or plastic integration into the human build and the artistic vulnerability in settling with the inevitable hunger for them compensate as enough change to what’s been harmed – in this case the environmental stability for biotic resources – and furthermore as enough psychological fulfillment in the moment as an act of “real change”, putting humanity back into its uniform equilibrium whether organically or inorganically. Back to the topic of irony, I guess the bigger one than even the title itself is that Crimes of the Future as a movie works as a cinematic new body organ of its own, but one that sort of proves Cronenberg’s more optimistic look on self-inflicted, and even if pointless in what it progresses externally, evolution. As long as it’s a spiritual healer internally, it can do no wrong to the individuals who wrongfully (but then rightfully lol) indulge it, balancing both the literal ecosystem and our existential survival.

Though to get all of this across, Crimes of the Future is obsessively thought-dropping idea by idea between plain lumps of dialogue and the occasional Cronenbergian visual to pile up this somewhat awe-inspiring big picture, which sparks for a compelling debate for each it includes but it also makes the movie insanely overbearing to switch between such and therefore extract as a completed narrative. The fact that this is getting a wide release in America already blows my mind because it’s certainly “30% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes” material that’ll likely plummet at the box office. It’s unfortunate that Cronenberg’s irregular methodology here is what’ll probably cause most viewers to not see what’s there: that its very deeply rooted universe is its very deeply rooted voice. His world-building of what’s to come but also what’s already been here where humanity needs constant new stimulations like any commercial art consumer or drug addict – the twitchy performances especially from our three leads particularly sell this – is just enough to make this enjoyable. It works first and foremost as a gallery walk composed of a bit overbearing narration (in the shape of dialogue) that’s accompanied by contemplative visual futurism. Introducing… Cronenberg’s Brave New World.

Verdict: B

2022 Ranked, David Cronenberg Ranked

“Crimes of the Future” will be playing in theaters June 3rd.

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