Over 20 years later and Viggo Mortensen is still talking about David Cronenberg’s Cannes shocker “Crash.”
The “Crimes of the Future” star joins forces for the fourth time with visionary director David Cronenberg, and Mortensen revealed that while the new film may cause a stir at Cannes this year, it still will pale in comparison to the “big scandal” caused by Cronenberg’s “Crash” in 1996. And, according to Mortensen, last year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Titane” was a less visionary spin on car-centric body horror.
“In my opinion, no offense to the director of ‘Titane’ [Julia Ducournau], but ‘Crash’ was head and shoulders above that movie, because it wasn’t just about superficial shock value and unconventional imagery,” Mortensen told The Hollywood Reporter. “There was a story beneath it, there was true character exploration in ‘Crash,’ much more than in ‘Titane,’ I think.”
“Crash” starred James Spader as a TV director who survives a serious car accident, only to later discover an erotic sub-culture of car crash victims who get turned on by auto accidents. Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, and Rosanna Arquette rounded out the cast. The film received a Special Jury Award as the Cannes jury was split on its Palme d’Or merits.
Meanwhile, 2021’s “Titane” similarly centered on automobile fetishism, with its lead character having sex with and getting impregnated by a car.
Now, Cronenberg is back competing for the Palme d’Or with “Crimes of the Future,” a body-horror drama starring Mortensen and Léa Seydoux as celebrity performance artists who capture the attention of a National Organ Registry investigator, played by Kristen Stewart, as organ transplants are viewed as the next phase of human evolution. Cronenberg previously revealed that he expects “walkouts” after the film’s festival premiere but assured audiences won’t be “outraged” in the same way as with “Crash.”
“Who knows what’s going to happen — every jury is different. But certainly in ‘Crimes of the Future,’ like ‘Crash,’ you get to know the characters, they’re fully realized and with motivations,” Mortensen told THR. “There’s mystery to them, but they are actually characters. It’s not like one long music video.”
The “A History of Violence” alum continued, “I imagine ‘Crimes of the Future’ could cause controversy, but I think it will leave you thinking and discussing and with something to take home. You may wake up the next day and still think, ‘What the hell was that?’ But at the same time, you’re likely to be thinking of the world as it is now. It’s impossible to say. Cannes can be unpredictable. But if people like ‘Titane’ and liked the challenges it presented, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be equally, if not more, interested by this movie.”
As Mortensen summed up, “[Cronenberg’s] been many times [to Cannes]. But I don’t think he’s fully gotten his due there.”