The dystopian-future hipster pic starring Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux as a performance art couple obsessed with being operated on, and the former getting his organs tattooed to club-crowd spectacle, scored a six-minute standing ovation after the credits rolled here at its Cannes Film Festival premiere.
Kristen Stewart plays a worker in an organ organization (yes) who is bedazzled by Viggo’s Saul Tenser and crushes on him, yearning to be the new muse in his life and taking over for Seydoux’s Caprice. See, it’s Caprice who gets to suck Saul’s open wounds, and she’s the chief architect of his innards (the loose argument is that all this anarchistic surgery enables him to survive). It’s a slow burn with guts, lots of guts, which kicks off with a little boy eating a plastic bathroom pail, followed by his mother suffocating him with a pillow. That dangler gets tied up later in the film.
But in all sincerity, after a pandemic that shackled us to streaming, such images are just so much more fantastic on the big screen, being shared with an audience in a grand, humid auditorium.
“I’m speechless, really — this is the first time I’ve seen this movie on a screen this big,” Cronenberg said in a brief speech, “I’m very touched by your response. I hope you’re not kidding, I hope you mean it. I’ll be talking to all of you and texting all of you. Thank you so much. It’s wonderful for me to share the movie finally with human beings. It really helps.”