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There's no better clue that a movie is going to drum up conversation than it receiving a several-minutes-long ovation from some viewers while others have to walk out partway through. This is exactly what happened when Kristen Stewart's new movie, Crimes of the Future, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The horror film, from director David Cronenberg, is about a future in which humans can no longer feel pain but also grow new organs, which are used by the main character in his performance art.
The result was so disturbing to some audience members that they couldn't sit through the whole film. Read on to find out more about why Crimes of the Future caused walkouts and to see what Stewart had to say in response.
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The movie is very gory.
The official description of Crimes of the Future reads, "As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances." Stewart plays Timlin, an investigator for the National Organ Registry, who becomes enthralled with Saul.
Among the uncomfortable images included in the film are surgeries (some in a sexual context), bloody intestines, and an autopsy of a child, as reported by Variety.
Some audience members were too grossed out—or offended—to keep watching.
According to Variety and The Independent, some people walked out of the Cannes premiere of the movie. The Independent reports that some audience members left during the first five minutes and others left during a scene in which Seydoux's character licks an open wound. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly reported that no one walked out of the premiere screenint, but that 15 people left a press screening. Insider also reported on "several" people leaving a press screening.
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The film's director expected an intense reaction.
Cronenberg predicted that people would walk out of his film before it even premiered.
"There are some very strong scenes. I mean, I'm sure that we will have walkouts within the first five minutes of the movie. I'm sure of that," he told Deadline in May. "Some people who have seen the film have said that they think the last 20 minutes will be very hard on people, and that there'll be a lot of walkouts. Some guy said that he almost had a panic attack. And I say, 'Well, that would be OK.' But I'm not convinced that that will be a general reaction. I do expect walkouts in Cannes, and that's a very special thing. [Laughs] People always walk out, and the seats notoriously clack as you get up, because the seats fold back and hit the back of the seat. So, you hear clack, clack, clack."
Stewart said she never felt "repulsed" by the film.
At a press conference for the movie, Stewart addressed reports of audiences leaving the film.
"Everyone loves to talk about how [Cronenberg's] movies are difficult to watch and it's fun to talk about people walking out of Cannes screenings," Stewart said, as reported by Insider. "But 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."
Those who stayed at the premiere gave it a standing ovation.
In an interview with Vulture after the Cannes premiere, Stewart talked about how she felt about the Cannes audience's reaction. The movie reportedly received a seven-minute standing ovation.
"Before the credits lifted, it was dead silent," Stewart said. "I was like, 'Ooh, people don't know how to feel. They don't know if they should clap or not.' I felt like it was the [expletive] Will Smith moment where everyone was like, 'Yes? No? No. Okay, actually no!' Like, do people have to look to their left and right to see if people like it before they clap? It's a lot to take on at first, I guess." She added, "Everyone talking about walking out and how intense it was. I was like, 'It's not intense! It's really beautiful.'"
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