A movie about car fetishists? Surely, you jest! Based on the famous novel by J. G. Ballard, the story centers around Ballard himself (played by James Spader) and his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger). When Ballard survives a deadly car crash, he meets up with the victim on the other car, Dr. Remington (played by the beautiful Holly Hunter). She introduces Ballard into a world of car crash fetishists, men and women who get sexually excited by surviving car crashes and idolize the deaths of people like James Dean and Jane Mansfield the way someone like me would watch a pornographic film. There he meets Vaughan, played by Elias Koteas, the biggest car-freak of them all, who takes Ballard into the most dangerous depths of this sexual fixation.
The movie is ridiculously explicit, in an effective and confrontational way. Sex is at the center of it, and it’s both verbal and physical, such as when Ballard and his wife are making love and Unger asks him whether or not he’s had male intercourse or tasted semen. This, with the medical fetishism, is probably why the movie received so much negative criticism. It’s famous screening in Cannes nearly caused a riot. My favorite sexual scene is the one with Roxanna Arquette, who gets fucked in a vagina-shaped wound. There’s also homosexual sex between Koteas and Spader, and Unger and Hunter as well. Sex is it’s main center, but also horror. The destruction of the body, scars, physical transformation through pain runs through it’s main theme, and it’s David Cronenberg’s mastery of this type of material that gives this film it’s punch in the nuts. A perfect mix of horror and erotica. Not to be missed.