Even in a filmography brimming with edgy controversy, Cronenberg’s CRASH manages to stand out with its bravura take on the novel of the same name from cult author J.G Ballard.
Spader is James Ballard, a film producer who, after getting into a crash, discovers a subculture of individuals obsessed with the raw-sexuality generated by car crashes.
Trapped in a joyless, open marriage, Ballard rediscovers his sexuality via increasingly dangerous interactions with adherents of this subculture, pushing his newfound fetish further and further.
Cleverly underlining the link between sexuality and violence, Cronenberg brilliantly depicts the rediscovery of emotion within a staid couple through extreme sexual obsession. He sees the obsessions with the crashes and their symbolic sexual release as a way of dealing with the pent up inadequacies of the human mind.
If emotion rules the body, as Cronenberg seems to suggest, then the body needs to be broken to let out all that is trapped within it. Searingly hot, immediately engaging and impossible to forget, Crash has risen way above the cheap controversy attached to it by outsiders and stands as a perfect Cronenberg film that blends the bodily metaphors of early work like Videodrome with the psychological complexities of a latter day masterpiece like Spider.
It is a bridge over which Cronenberg travels through the body and into the mind to create a perfect union of eros and thanatos; a fetishized moment that will take a lifetime to untangle for both the participants and the dispassionate voyeur the audience is asked to become. Maybe next time. Maybe…next time.
Director: David Cronenberg