Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: A Dangerous Method (2011)

“Experiences like this, however painful, unnecessary and inevitable, without them, how can we know life?”

Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Christopher Hampton
Actors: Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen

In his later career Cronenberg has become a really interesting director. Okay that’s not true, he’s always been an interesting director and one of my favourites, but there is just something about his later career that astounds me. How he’s been able to take themes that he’s been interested in and explored in some great horror movies, and move it into films that are more accessible to general audiences. Well; a little more accessible. With A Dangerous Method he’s looking at sex, repression and telling it through two of the biggest psychologists; Freud and Jung.

Acting wise the movie is just superb. Out of the three main actors it’s Keira Knightley that really steals the show as Sabina Spielrein, the woman that caused the fracture between Jung and Freud. I can see many actresses just over playing the role as the role does lend itself to the insanity. Yet while she does have her wild moments there are touches of the subtle woven throughout. Looking back on how she played some of the scenes, there is such a genius in every movement. Fassbender as Carl Jung is also excellent as the young psychologist trying to flesh out his ideas and most importantly figure out the best way to help people. Viggo Mortensen as Sigmun Freud rounds out the awesome trio. I think he’s the weakest of the three but only because he’s not given as much time to develop as a character. Still Viggo grabs onto the role and throttles as much as he can out of it.

Story wise while interesting, it is severely hampered by the time cuts. There are some really fascinating ideas about the creation of psychological theories and how the people who study the field have their own neurosis. Also the movie touches on some body horror elements and sexual identity which are Cronenberg’s bread and butter. The fact that he’s taking these idea’s and turning them into something that audiences can watch without being turned away by the horror elements in his previous films. Yet all this never really gels into a fully satisfying film thanks to the movie not having a good enough flow. I was disappointed that I didn’t get enough time to really explore the relationship between Freud and Jung. There’s enough to make the movie work, it is noticeable.

Overall I think this movie is good, it’s just a shame that the script is too choppy to really focus in on the relationship of Jung and Freud. Honestly the story is almost too big to be contained in one movie and yet I don’t think it could ever sustain more than one. I think this is a case where the history is more interesting to go read than to watch. Still for lovers of Cronenberg, and people who want to delve into the world of Freud and Jung then this is a good beginning.

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