True to his obsession with the body and its guts, Canadian director David Cronenberg launched his latest film, Crimes of the Future, in Cannes on Tuesday.
Deep or smoky? The audience will decide, but David Cronenberg lived up to his reputation as the gore pope by presenting Crimes of the Future at Cannes, where he pushed his obsession with the body and guts further than ever.
Set in an indefinite “post-disaster” future, a world in shambles where pain has been abolished, the film stars the director’s favorite actor, Viggo Mortensen (“A History of Violence,” 2005; “The Promises of Shadow ”; 2007 , “A Dangerous Method”, 2011). This time in the shoes of a very special actor, Saul.
His creations? Tattoos on his internal organs during publicly performed surgical procedures. Keyword: “Surgery is the new gender”. The scalpel is wielded by Caprice, played by a waxy-faced Léa Seydoux, while a nebulous police force, the Office of the National Organ Registry, represented by Kristen Stewart, watches over her from afar.
The subject is obscure at times, about human evolution and the “naturally unnatural,” those “neo-organs” cultivated into bodies by machines that seem to date back to the 1980s, and their confusing “punchlines” ( “Zippers have their own sex appeal”).
Most notably, the film marks the director’s return to “body horror” after an eight-year absence. “In this film I tried to look inside the body,” he summarizes for AFP, in his sixth year in competition.
“My interest is not to shock and my goal is not for people to leave the room, but it can happen,” continues the director, who has matured for more than twenty years, of the cults “La Mouche” or “Vidéodrome” project. Sensitive souls are put to the test from the opening sequence as we see a child crunching in a plastic chair like a candy bar before being murdered by its mother and suffocated under a pillow.
“Ahead of the Times”
“There are things I wouldn’t like to see, but it’s very specific. I don’t like cruelty, especially cruelty to children (…) I wouldn’t say it shocks me, but I don’t like to watch it,” nuances the man, who has three children and four grandchildren.
The smell of sulfur that surrounds the 79-year-old director is not new: since his competition debut in 1996 he has caused a scandal with “Crash”, divided the critics, but won a special prize from the jury. This film about sex, violence and car accidents inspired Julia Ducournau’s “Titanium”, the 2021 Palme d’Or.
Another type of accident happened on “Crimes du futur” where the filming was abruptly stopped due to exhausted budget. The magnet actor Viggo Mortensen, made famous by “Lord of the Rings”, “Captain Fantastic” or “Green Book: On the Roads of the South”, who has often been filmed naked by David Cronenberg, this time literally gets his guts out.
“Ahead of its time”
“In some shots I was very happy not to be in my own skin,” the actor confides to AFP, particularly regarding the evisceration scenes, which were filmed in Athens at more than 40 degrees. “Of course there are things you can’t do to your body if you then take a second or third shot!”
“It’s a well-written and structured film noir story, but also a love story between Léa Seydoux and my character, boundless trust, a very strong physical connection and a story of sacrifice for each other’s physical well-being,” he continues.
“We have a friendship with David and a trust that allows me to let him try unusual things that I wouldn’t necessarily try with others, not knowing if they’re asking about the value of the plan or about the show,” he continues. For him, David Cronenberg is “ahead of his time” and you have to see his films “four or five times in a row” to understand them.
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