Max Renn is especially good at finding the real in the so-called "virtual" because he is equally good at seeing virtuality in the "real." From the beginning, he understands that much of everyday life is a massive media event devoid of meaning. The old flesh is tired, used up, and toxic. The world is filled with a suffering assuaged only by glowing television screens. As the film progresses, the real and unreal blur, making each seem hyperbolic: hallucinations become tangible, while the tangible drips with a surrealism that's gritty, jumpy, dirty, erotic, and violent. As such, Cronenberg's universe is always a little sticky: an unease which begs the nightmares to come true, so that we at least know what's real.
I imprinted so hard on this movie. You probably knew that.