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Laramie Movie Scope:
Crimes of the Future

Another Cronenberg warped sex and blood story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 31, 2022 – I did not know this was a film written and directed by David Cronenberg when I sat down to watch it, but it came as no surprise when his name popped up in the credits. Before that I had already struck by the similarities of this film to two of his previous films, “Crash” (1996) and “eXistenZ” (1999).

This low-budget horror/science fiction/mutilation fetish film features big name acting talents, and they turn in impressive performances in this movie. Viggo Mortenson (“Thirteen Lives”) and Léa Seydoux (“No Time to Die”) play the central figures, performance artists Saul Tenser and Caprice.

Saul is constantly evolving. His body regularly produces new organs that have no known purpose, a condition called “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome.” Using a modified autopsy machine, Caprice cuts him open and removes the new organs without otherwise hurting him. Audiences gather to watch these “performances” of organ removal. This particular act is one of many involving surgery as a spectator sport.

Caprice approaches a woman whose face is cut open in an artistic manner in front of spectators. The woman says, “I enjoy trauma. What I do to myself is very traumatic.” Caprice replies, “Is it? You seem so peaceful, so beatific while your surgery's going on. Watching you suddenly filled me with the desire to cut my face open.”

Another character in the film who is attracted to mutilation fetishism is Timlin (Kristen Stewart of “Spencer”) who is employed at the run-down office of the National Organ Registry. She aggressively comes on to Saul, who tells her he isn't very good at old-fashioned sex.

A man, Lang Dotrice (Scott Speedman of “Underworld: Evolution”) approaches Saul one day and proposes an actual autopsy on the body of his deceased son, Brecken (Sotiris Siozos) who had the innate ability to eat and digest plastic. Brecken's mother, horrified at her son's plastic-eating habits, considered him an inhuman abomination, and murdered him.

Lang Dotrice is the head of an underground organization convinced that developing the ability to eat plastic is the next step in human evolution, and the ideal way to deal with a badly polluted planet. There is a whole subplot involved with those combating this underground group, by utilizing secret agents and assassins, including technicians Dani Router (Nadia Litz) and Berst (Tanaya Beatty) of LifeFormWare, a company whose awkward, organic-looking machines are supposed to help people eat and sleep.

Obviously, when it comes to human evolution, the goal of eating plastic is not very lofty. It does work, in the context of this movie, as a comment on pollution. The real energy of this film is not focused on social commentary, but on sexual fetishes involving body cutting. This can be considered an extension of tattooing, body piercing and other such practices.

As far as comparisons to the two other Cronenberg films I think are similar, “Crash” and “eXistenZ,” I think this is inferior, both in terms of quality and budget. The budgetary issues show up mostly in terms of low-rent sets and other production compromises. While the screenplay is unimpressive, the acting, particularly by Mortenson, Stewart and Seydoux, is outstanding.

Cronenberg (who directed another film of the same name in 1970) has gotten all of his actors into a true Twilight Zone mode here. They all embody this strange, alternate reality. It's all just too creepy and slimy and squirm-inducing. This is not my thing, but it will no doubt appeal to some. After all, there are naked women in it, and one can always label it as art. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]