In 1983, with videodrome, David Cronenberg coins a term that goes down in the history of cinema: the new meat. put into words something that was in his cinema and that at that moment is made explicit by finding a way to define one of his obsessions. Human bodies as something obsolete that must evolve and merge with technology or machines to create a new living being adapted to the future. This was even manifested in the fetishistic union between men and objects, another constant in his work. Videodrome's final speech welcomed the new meat as if it were a religion.
In that foundational work, James Woods evolved and created a new being that mixed the human and the video. He even had sexual intercourse and fused his hand with a gun, giving rise to a new limb. There was also the new flesh in one of his most celebrated works, Crash, which showed people dominated by a sexual affiliation that separated them from society: car accidents. The chaos excited them and they had relationships after crashing their vehicles. His body was also evolving in some way. His legs were covered with scars, irons and screws due to accidents.
The new meat to which Cronenberg named returned last year with force thanks to Titane, the film with which Julia Ducournau achieved something that the Canadian director had never achieved: the Palme d'Or. Crash could not pass the Special Jury Prize , but the French director broke that barrier that prevented the genre from winning prizes at major festivals. Ducournau brought together a woman and a car giving life to a new titanium body. In passing, she reflected on queerness and machismo in a radical and unique film.
A year later it is Cronenberg himself who returns to his original cinema, to that new meat that he had not visited for a long time. He does it, moreover, at the same Cannes Festival that has never given him a Palme d'Or. His Crimes of the future was the most anticipated film of the contest and it has not disappointed. He will divide, give people something to talk about, and everyone will want to know if it is as controversial as they warned. Days before the contest it was said that the last third of it was so brutal that people would leave the rooms. It's not that bad. Crimes of the future is much less provocative than what they have sold us, but that does not mean that several of its images are so powerful, radical and different from what we usually see that have blown up the Cannes Festival when there are still several days left to go. its end.
In Crimes of the future, the director shows a decadent, dirty and dark society in a dystopian future that could be in a few years or in decades. There is no specific time reference. He presents us with a moment in which bodies have decided to evolve by creating new organs and where governments have to control all those who carry a new organ inside their body. Order must be maintained. Contain the chaos. There is a clear metaphor in his film and in his starting point: evolution as something negative and nostalgia for the past taken to the extreme. Nostalgia is reactionary, Cronenberg tells us in a film that is more cryptic and philosophical than provocative and that basically raises issues such as climate change.
The director's return to his obsessions makes him also deliver one of his best films in a long time. It has lost the element of surprise. We all already know his universe and it is not so new, but that does not make it less attractive. Crimes of the future is a hypnotic film both thematically and visually. You can't look away from her. Cronenberg wraps you in a nightmare as beautiful as it is terrifying, full of deformed and mutated bodies. He displays an imagery that drinks from the designs of the late HR Giger, another of the greatest exponents of the new meat and known for having created the monsters in the Alien movies.
This serves Cronenberg to present the viewer with various reflections that he never closes or of which he passes sentence. He hurls questions at the viewer's face as images of him as beautiful as they are terrifying—a body full of ears dancing to techno music—roll back and forth. In Crimes of the future he debates about art. In a world without pain—another characteristic of this dystopian future—man has begun to use his body as a canvas. The premises are filled with performances where the artists cut their flesh and show their wounds. There is no longer sex, but surgery is the new sex as Kristen Stewart says at one point in the film. Prostitutes do not practice relations in an alley, but cut feet with a knife. The old sex, as the protagonist says, is no longer interesting. The forbidden is what excites us, and in a life without pain, nothing is more exciting than finding it in some way.
Should art provoke? Is pain the only way to create something unique and different? That's what this film is about, and that's what the protagonists, Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux, are considering, who, thanks to a unique technology, remove the new organs live. What if these organs are a natural evolution of the human being that we are denying and that they are denying us to control us? Cronenberg does not leave aside the peculiar black humor, almost macabre of him. His open canal bodies make him play with the concept of 'inner beauty'. If beauty is within, the most beautiful will be those organs that make us different and that are even awarded at a clandestine awards gala with their own categories.
Of course there are scenes that play with the limits of the viewer, but few compared to other of his proposals. Those sliced and split bodies are shown as if they were works of art and erotic and eroticizing objects. There is even cunnilingus to an open gut in one scene that is pure Cronenberg. Crimes of the future is his return to a cinema that he dominates with a master's hand and that he now does with the maturity of a director who has nothing to prove. It is no longer necessary to be a provocateur, in fact, he even manages to move us with a beautiful and mysterious last scene in which a tear in black and white, recorded on a video camera, is the door to an unknown and perhaps better future.