First Teaser Trailer for David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds Has Been Released

That which is short does not always have to be strictly sweet…sometimes there’s something more sinister simmering beneath. That being said, the first look at Canadian filmmaking maestro David Cronenberg’s latest upcoming feature, The Shrouds, certainly offers a sweet way to start the week, but you can be sure of the sinister undercurrent that is prevalent in any of his pictures, and this film is no different.

The teaser has been released in anticipation of its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, set to begin tomorrow, May 14th, with The Shrouds having been nominated for the illustrious Palm D’Or, the festival’s top competitive honour. Cronenberg is something of an artistic darling at Cannes, as this is seventh nomination for the award since 1996 for his controversial – but brilliant – psychological/erotic thriller Crash, which ultimately won the Jury Special Prize, an award that has not been given out since and certainly rubbed some of the judges the wrong way at the time. His most recent film prior to The Shrouds, Crimes of the Future, a film that marked Cronenberg’s return to filmmaking after an eight-year hiatus, during which he considered retiring, was also nominated for the Palm D’Or. Thankfully, the master filmmaker reconsidered retirement and is going through something of an artistic renaissance as he wades into his eighties.

The Shrouds, which is Cronenberg’s twenty-third feature film, centres on a grieving widower named Karsh, played by Vincent Cassel, who creates a technology called GraveTech that allows people to monitor their dearly departed in the shroud in which they exist after death. The technology proves as revolutionary as it is controversial, and when several graves fitted with GraveTech are vandalised, including that of his late wife, Karsh seeks out those responsible. 

The general plot of The Shrouds has been known for some time, and while the teaser is a brief thirty seconds, there is still a surprising amount to take away from it. Most noticeably, it looks like Cassel, who is a talented but underrated actor outside of France, has taken full advantage of the opportunity to sink his teeth into the role of Karsh, which is wonderful to see considering that the first and last time Cassel worked with Cronenberg was on 2007’s Eastern Promises, where he delivered a decidedly hammy performance as a Russian mobster. His acting is undoubtedly bolstered by Cronenberg’s surehanded direction, especially considering that The Shrouds is one of the most personal films of his career, openly admitting that it has been a means of dealing with the death of his own wife, Carolyn Zeifman, recently telling Variety, “I was writing this film while experiencing the grief of the loss of my wife, who died seven years ago. It was an exploration for me because it was not just a technical exercise, it was an emotional exercise.” 

The trailer also showcases Diane Kruger, who appears to be Karsh’s maid in her brief appearances, though she’s listed as playing multiple roles named Becca, Terry, and Hunny, suggesting that there is a great deal more to her presence in the film than meets the eye. Perhaps, she even portrays Karsh’s late wife, which would make for a fascinating and incredibly Cronenbergian approach to the film’s themes. There’s also a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where we see Cassel’s Karsh kissing Canadian actress Sandrine Holt’s Soo-Min, the mysterious wife of a billionaire who seemingly wishes to aid Karsh. Guy Pearce rounds out an impressive cast, and while his presence is not apparent in the trailer, there is one moment where we see a character blurred out in the background as the camera is focused on Karsh that may be him.

While a date has yet to be announced for The Shrouds theatrical release, we will at least hear all the buzz after the film has premiered and see if David Cronenberg’s latest cinematic effort lives up to the immensely high precedent set during his utterly singular career.

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