Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future

Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future
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Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future. FIRST THINGS FIRST. This post is not a THiNC. recommendation for you to go to the local theater and watch this movie. If the macabre, or cinema of the horrible, is your thing… by all means, rapidly run to your local theater and commence watching. Go. But if something within you doesn’t resoundingly resonate? Skip it. But I have to say – this is one bad ass puzzle we are going to need all our faculties to figure out. Did I like the movie… I mean, enjoy it? No. I enjoyed really nothing about this movie save for the fact that my brain was going 200 miles an hour trying to lace a needle and thread through all the various pieces that make up this technicolor car crash in order to frankenstein this Cronenburg movie into some semblance of sanity or sense making.

A quick spoiler free explanation of what this movie is about… ??? Wow. Okay, so this will be harder than I imagined. Um. Let’s see. In the future… bodies are becoming somewhat useless. We have overcome pain. It’s now obsolete. And in this future world there are shadowy and dark underworlds of people that are all about crafting and creating new organs… and performing their excising for legions of adoring fans. And as the movie investigates and explores these dark and scary worlds of hyper-physical/sexualized arenas, we try and understand the future of intimacy and closeness, and how to achieve it when this new modernity is rendering us out of date. Or not. I’m still grappling with the basic underpinnings of the movie myself. Maybe the trailer will tell you if it’ll be your thing or not.

So, some house keeping. This movie is one of the most off-putting movies I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen a lot of crazy movies… many of which we’ve talked about here. But somehow? This is some next level crazy. So, even if you choose not to watch the film – more power to you – it might be a bit much to even read about the movie for some of you. With that said, please consider about whether you should continue or not. Alright? Basically? You’ve been warned. Great.

Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future

Overview Walkthrough of Crimes of the Future

In this completely unspecified future date – the world is on the brink. Of something. Disasters. Ecological, pollution, bio-tech, etc., etc., etc. Something is about to give in this crazy world that Cronenberg slides us effortlessly into. And in this world of chaos, machines have been built to bypass and override human organ functions in order to keep people alive. Not only alive, but living without any pain – ever. There are machines that pivot, shift and move the human body during sleep to adroitly solve pain… solve for dietary needs… control bodily functions. Also, in this future, humans have begun to shift, and change. Is it purely technological? Is it a response of humans to their dying environment? That question is left open like a gaping maw hoping that you step too closely to the edge. Regardless, humans do not experience pain, or have any infectious diseases, so much so, that we see people regularly performing surgery on one another in the streets the risks are so low. These are minor changes that the populace insinuate on one another. But some take this idea to an extreme.

Meet Brecken. An eight-year-old who is very different indeed. Why? Well, because he has stopped eating regular food… well, food that normal humans would consider normal anyway. The long and short of it is that Brecken only eats plastic. He is able to not only consume plastic, but to also digest it. In fact, it’s the only thing that he is able to eat. Meet Brecken’s mother. She finds Brecken to be a monster. So much so, that she smothers the boy in his sleep. She then calls her ex, Lang, and asks him to come get the boy’s corpse. Yeah… we are like 3 minutes in. And the crazy hasn’t even started yet.

Now, let’s pivot to Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen – The Road) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux – The Lobster, Midnight in Paris), two of the world’s most renowned “performance artists” in this strange futuristic world. What kind of performances do Tenser and Caprice perform? Great question. It would seem, that Tenser suffers from a condition called “accelerated evolution syndrome.” Apparently, Tenser’s body is constantly creating and developing new vestigial organs. As a result, in order to keep Tenser alive (?), Caprice performs surgeries on Tenser in front of standing room audiences as she removes these organs. Because of this weird syndrome, it constantly leaves him in extraordinary pain. And as a result, is another enormous curiosity about him that makes him even more unique and interesting to the world. He is assisted by four different machines that help him to sleep, eat, and allows Caprice to perform surgery on him.

As a result of their performative art, the National Organ Registry – an official governmental office that regulates and disallows human evolution by cataloguing and filing away all newly evolved organs – comes to meet with Tenser and Caprice. This disallow is only obliquely referred to – but I think its really quite important to both the flow of the movie, and also its eventual understanding. But we’ll get to that later. Timlin (Kristen Stewart), a National Organ Registry employee, becomes obviously enamored with Tensor and his artistic vision. And we get this message loud and clear from her when at a show that they are invited to, she tells him that “surgery is the new sex.” Let that quote sink in a moment. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

This is where the police enters the scene… specifically a governmental unit that is attempting to infiltrate a group of radical evolutionists. Tenser begins meeting with various groups and contacts deep within this dark underground of body modification madness and various art shows. It’s here that he watches a show where a man with numerous ears sown all over his body dances. “They aren’t even functional…” and it’s through these disparate encounters that Tenser eventually makes contact with evolutionists that the government is wanting to make contact with. During one of these encounters, Tenser receives a zippered pouch in his gut… which Caprice, who is left in the dark about all of these encounters, finds extraordinarily erotic. Similarly, while Tenser has been tracking this evolutionary group, Caprice has been busy investigating this art world underground, and she receives cosmetic surgery on her forehead from a woman that has had her cheeks and forehead filleted like the gills of a fish. Yeah. You heard me correctly. I’m not saying it again.

Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future

Later, Tenser meets with Timlin again, and he discovers that the agenda of the evolutionists is to transform their digestive systems in order to make it possible for them to eat plastic. And their food? A purple candybar that is reconstituted toxic waste. This food will kill average humans. But to these evolved humans? It is their standard fare. Lang? The father of Brecken, he happens to be the head of this evolutionist revolutionaries. It was presumed that Brecken had been born with this same ability to eat plastics. It was his birth that countered everything that the government’s National Organ Registry stands for. That these evolutionary changes will be detrimental to humans the world over, and even cause their death. Timlin attempts to make love to Tenser, but he tells her that he is unable to have “the old kind of sex.”

This is the part you need to pay close attention to. Lang – the head of the radical evolutionists – wants Caprice and Tenser to perform an autopsy, live and on air, in order to prove to the world that Lang’s son had an advanced, evolutionary digestive system. Eventually, after some contemplation, Tenser agrees. During the autopsy, intended on showing this higher evolutionary state, it is actually revealed that the boy’s digestive tract had been surgically replaced.

Now – Lang – devastated, flees the autopsy. Why would he be devastated for the slower members of our class?? Because his hope was that humans were evolving, and these growing organs that were happening within society should be allowed to continue. They should be encouraged, because it would be for the betterment of humanity. Not its detriment, downfall, or death… right? But, it turned out that all his son’s digestive organs were artificially implanted. hrm. Regardless, two agents that we’d met earlier in the film that supposedly worked on maintaining Tenser’s medical machines, came and killed Lang by drilling into his head.

Tenser later learns though through his connection within the police, that it was Timlin that had replaced the boy’s organs in order to hide the child’s evolutionary leap. She did it to hide this information and to also discredit the leader of this evolutionary cabalist group. Realizing what he had supported, and condoned through his connections to the police, Tenser decides he will no longer assist the police. As the movie ends, Tenser is losing his ability to eat anymore. And as a last ditch effort, Caprice gives Tenser one of the evolutionary group’s toxic candy bars. And as he eats it, he sheds a tear, and the movie ends.

Let’s Talk About The Candy Bar Ending of Crimes of the Future

I know that a lot of you don’t care about this movie. You don’t care about the nuance of it – or why the hell it was so crazy. You don’t care about the organs, or the cutting, or the weirdness of it, but you just care about one thing. What is that one thing that you care about? WHAT DOES THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE CRIME OF THE FUTURE MEAN? WHY IS TENSER CRYING? WHY DID CAPRICE GIVE HIM THE CANDY BAR? WHAT IS GOING ON!?!?

And for those of you that are just looking for this answer – I’ve got you. Don’t worry. It’s simple enough. The last half of the movie, Caprice and Tenser knew something was changing in Tenser’s system. They knew that they could do a show to remove organs, and that they could probably have a show. But instead of doing an autopsy as well as a show, they didn’t. They just autopsied the boy, and made no change to Tenser’s body at all. Okay? And in that time period, Tenser was changing dramatically on the inside. So much so, that, similar to the boy, he developed a new intestinal/digestive system. So much so, that he wasn’t able to digest normal food anymore. So much so that his system was fighting back.


Great question good sir. Tenser and Caprice were really out of options. Tenser couldn’t eat anymore. So the candy bar was a last ditch effort to save his life. The assumption with the candy bar is that Tenser had evolved to the same intestinal evolutionary state as the boy had. He now could only eat plastic and toxic waste. (A more safe test would have actually given the guy a trash can to chew on. Sure, it wouldn’t have been great for his stomach, but it wouldn’t have killed him.) So Caprice and Tenser were going ALL IN on the idea that Tenser had evolved. Not that he had added a random and vestigial organ, but that he his body had actually evolved into a new state. This is a key distinction between errant changes, and intentionality towards a higher and better evolutionary state. Does that make sense?

So at the end of the day… Tenser was crying because he knew he would live, and better yet, he knew that he had transformed to something new. Something forbidden, but different. But how do we know he wasn’t going to die? These could be tears of pain… tears of an imminent death? Sure, technically, they could be. But we watched someone die from eating a toxic candy bar, and it began with blue sludge coming out of their mouth… not tears of any sort. So yeah… we can be relatively certain that Tenser will be just fine…

Explaining the Mindjob Movie that is Crimes of the Future

No. I really can’t. Hahaha. But I do think the ending gives us a feeling for what the movie was really about. But maybe we should start with hearing from Kristen Stewart on what the movie might mean?

“Every single gaping, weird bruise in his movies, it makes my mouth open. You wanna lean in toward it. And it never repulses me ever. The way I feel, it is through really visceral desire and that’s the only reason we’re alive. We’re pleasure sacks.

“I think it’s such a testament to every thing that he has done up to this point. I find this movie to be shockingly personal and intimate. Even though its a little confronting and sometimes absolutely grotesque, which Cronenberg fans will appreciate. There’s a sweetness and a tenderness to it, that I think the movie is actually about, I think there is a hopefulness to it even though it is set in a project time in the future that seems like a last gasp of humanity. The technology has created a terrain where the body is obsolete and where we are rendering ourselves useless and numb, but at the same time, art saves, always. If there’s a way to touch each other, we will figure it out. And so that the idea that surgery is the new sex or that we have to slice each other open to feel something, I feel it’s beautiful.” 

Kristen Stewart on the meaning of Crimes of the Future

Generally, I don’t put much stock in actor’s interpretations of a writer or director’s work. But I think she is 100% spot on here. She seems to have not only caught the gist of the movie, but the zeitgeist of our generation. A world suffering from Ennui of the worst kind. A future where we have stopped feeling to such a degree that we cut, scar, and tear another and ourselves in order to try and be feel something. Got it. So yes, that’s there. And I think I couldn’t have said it better myself… or it wouldn’t be any more right if Cronenberg had said it himself.

But what about the new appendages, the new organs? What about this weird underground of organs, and governmental agencies that are in place to disallow harmful evolutionary processes from occurring there? That is a really great question… yet again! You are full of glorious questions today. Kudos to you. I do know that Cronenberg has stated that there isn’t much political commentary here in this movie, but what political commentary that is there is about body ownership. Who owns the body, and who can define what can and cannot be done to it. (If you are still wondering, he’s talking about abortion specifically.) But there is also this curious detail about Kristen Stewart’s role as a governmental agency that goes around cataloguing rogue evolutionary leaps. She catalogs them, documents them, and declares them illegal.

This idea is a funny one. I’m a Christian, and I do not believe evolution (macro) exists, and although I’d love to chat with you about my own ignorance and stupidity, that isn’t what we are talking about here. If I did believe in evolution – that we arose from a puddle – then I would say that human’s desire to rigidly control the body and it’s natural “evolutions” is tragically ironic. We say that we believe in this Cosmic beauty of evolution and nature’s natural tendency to climb the complexity ladder (never mind the fact that entropy is the normal state of things) and yet, we cage and box the body to keep it from changing or growing or adapting. Who’s to say one day a child will be born with gills, and will be a better adaption of the human than the human? But that child would be sent to the circus, and disallowed from having children, or carrying on this new advancement. Why are humans so disenchanted with the theories that we believe govern our creation and development? Maybe I’m to blame actually? Me and my God fearing brethren? That we are the ones that are keeping the human body from reaching its real potential? Hrm.. Interesting thought actually. Maybe Cronenberg is calling me out specifically for my disbelief in evolution – for my skepticism in perpetuating lottery wins that “accidentally” improves the species again and again? Maybe. Interesting thought.

My Thoughts on Crimes of the Future

Oh, I hated it. Very very much. Not just viscerally, which I did… but specifically and intensely. And yet, I loved it. I loved the way it made me question today’s morés and ideals. I loved the way it made something that horrifying sexual. “Surgery is the new sex.” Why? Because it really re-framed questions that had stagnated in my own head and forced me to grapple with old ideas in new and interesting ways. I think that is the funny thing about most people… the get repulsed by a thing… an art installation, or a play, and so they not only turn it off, and walk away, but they pass laws to censor it. Why? Because ideas and thoughts from artists are terribly scary. But after we censored that play, or burnt that book, does that mean that the ideas are gone, or the underlying problems are solved? No. No, it doesn’t.

I think Cronenberg taps into the modern culture in new and interesting ways that no other director can. Have you seen his movie Crash? I mean. Come on. He is a controversial voice not because he does repulsive things… but because he is actually thinking and asking questions. What do we do when society is fat, dumb, and happy… so happy that they feel nothing anymore. Or will there be a day when we pollute the planet to such an extreme that our bodies will twist and contort under the acid of it all? And when that happens, and we can’t feel anything anymore (metaphorically and literally) what do we do then? These are symptoms from a society that hurts… that has pain… longing and fears as a result of being completely lost. It’s an understandable reaction.

As a side note, there is a lot of talk about the objectionable content in this movie. The opening few minutes where a mother smothers her son to death. The sexual responses to slits in flesh, etc. But none of that really bothered me. What really REALLY bothered me was the fact that a real life child played the part of the boy in the beginning of the movie Brecken. (He’s played by a Greek child – Sozos Sotiris). Then later, his corpse is laid out on a table. It’s obviously a CG corpse… but it’s a naked child all the same. Yeah, that didn’t work for me at all. And this is in a movie where female robot mechanics get naked and climb on a machine together. I am no prude. I could have done with out that. But I’m sure that you guys will comment on the real strangeness of this movie and call this callout of mine irrelevant. Who knows. With that said, what did you guys think of the movie? What did you think it meant? What was Cronenberg saying here?

Edited by: CY