Unquestionably one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Cannes film festival will be the premiere of David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart, the film is in competition for this year’s headline prize, the Palme d’Or, and sees Cronenberg return to his visceral and violent roots.
This will not be the first time the Canadian-born provocateur comes wielding potentially explosive material to compete at Cannes but it’s hard to imagine it could cause anything like the storm that followed the premiere of CRASH in 1996. This week’s Friday Night Film pick was met with boos and walkouts en masse with critics doing their best to ensure the film never saw a theatrical release but its taboo-breaking explicit imagery made the film impossible to ignore for the jury and it walked away with the Special Jury Prize.
J. G Ballard’s 1973 novel of the same name, on which the film is based, aligned perfectly with Cronenberg’s cinematic interests in technological innovation via bodily disfigurements, previously explored so prominently in Videodrome and The Fly. In Crash, its central characters are lust-fueled sex addicts pulled into car crash fetishism to satisfy their perverse erotic cravings.
In recent times the film has been spoken of as being a precursor to last year’s Palme d’Or winner Titane, Julia Ducournau’s latest body-horror extravaganza. While Ducournau has spoken of her admiration for Cronenberg, and the films do share that quest for identity through extreme sexual arousal, Crash is a much more relentless critique of the excessiveness of Western culture, specifically the dangers of modern society’s fetishization of sex and violence.