Crash

Crash ★★★★★

Whether it's the "best" or your "favorite" Cronenberg film s one thing, but this has to be the purest encapsulation of his strengths as a filmmaker. This thing feels like it was cut out of sheet metal and fiberglass, pristine yet lifeless, its body horror presented as purely sexual yet sexless. Cronenberg understands the text and subtext of Ballard so well that it doesn't feel like mere humility that the author himself said that the director made a superior work out of the material than he did. The entire film throbs with warped lust, yet it nails the complete lack of satisfaction in indulging each urge that defines Ballard's prose, and in the scenes of Spader and Unger overlooking traffic or characters moaning with desire even as they look completely blank are clear glimpses into the critique of material capitalism that Ballard's writing so grotesquely parodies. An erotic thriller about the manner in which eroticism itself has been so commodified that only the threat of annihilation can make anything seem exciting.

And shout-out to Howard Shore, whose score is at once metallic yet almost ambient, like muzak played on junked cars. His LOTR scores are of course defining modern works but this might be his finest soundtrack, practically mind-melded with Cronenberg.