CRIMES OF THE FUTURE
David Cronenberg’s first feature since 2014’s Maps to the Stars is, depending on your outlook, a return to his roots, a return to his classic period, a return to form, or a step backward. Either way, you would not say it implies a bold new direction: if you’re a Cronenberg fan, this is very, very familiar territory. Indeed, it felt to me like a retread of his own Crash (1996) combined with eXistenZ (1999); those two films followed each other, and this is their perverse, belated baby. Like Crash, the characters here are so consumed with consummating their fetishistic sexual drives that they’re willing to sacrifice their bodies to their desires; like eXistenZ, grim fleshy imagery prevails. Cronenberg’s dialogue here is typically ludicrous but once you get lulled into it, the film becomes a little like a perverse warm bath, sweeping you into its bonkers world, aided by perfectly cast Cronenbergian regular Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and, especially, Kristen Stewart, who completely understands the lurid universe she’s in. Unfortunately, it’s all a bit cartoony – out-of-kilter from this most adult of auteurs – and ultimately unsatisfying.
Jordan Peele’s third feature is my biggest disappointment of 2022 so far, which is not to say it’s bad; perhaps my expectations were far too high. The best part – the sitcom ape – is far more interesting than the rest. There’s obviously a lot of ideas going on, references, all that jazz, but it’s a frustrating experience, a film of diminishing interest as it plods along.