The Shrouds (2024) Cannes Film Festival

May 21st, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: David Cronenberg | Cast: Vincent Cassel, Diane Kruger, Guy Pearce, Sandrine Holt | Canada 119′

In David Cronenberg’s latest sci-fi love story a grief-stricken man mourns the loss of his wife. But was he more obsessed with her body than her mind? Sexual desire is just one of the themes in this macabre but melancholy thriller. On his return to Cannes after Crimes of the Future, the Canadian director mulls over psychosomatics, freewill, life after death and the  power of Al in a filmic hotchpotch of complex and avantgarde ideas. Exciting to watch but needlessly convoluted in its plotline.

Here Vincent Cassel is France’s answer to Vincent Price: the chiselled cheek bones, haughty gaze, powerful physicality, penetrating blue eyes and shock of white hair make for a creepy cemetery entrepreneur who goes by the name of Karsh Relikh, an atheist who believes in the afterlife, but is also surprisingly vulnerable. The death of his wife Bekka has been a body blow, so much so that his teeth are actually rotting in response to the anguish (according to his dentist): he hasn’t had sex since her death four years previously, although this celibate status will be short-lived. Bekka leaves an almost identical sister Terry in the shape of Diane Kruger who deftly takes on both roles.

Weirdly it takes Karsh nearly the entire film to discover that Bekka’s body is what he misses most and he admits to experiencing a visceral desire to have been interred with her. And so he takes ‘great comfort’ in watching her corpse slowly decompose after burial in a “shroud” lined with multiple X-ray cameras. Bekka also visits him in her dreams complete with mastectomy scars. And when he finds out that their relationship was not as exclusive as he imagined, the jealousy is destructive. Meanwhile his limp brother in law Maury (Guy Pearce), is also emotionally unhinged by his divorce from Terry, and is trying to get his own back on Karsh for enigmatic reasons. Cronenberg envelopes his various themes into this simple story of sorrow and sadness.

Ultimately The Shrouds seems to serve as a cinematic valedictory to Cronenberg’s own wife who died of cancer several years ago. It has the same cold beauty as his recent works but none of the dark humour of his early films. @MeredithTaylor



Copyright © 2024 Filmuforia