A Dangerous Method

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Remo D
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A Dangerous Method

Post by Remo D » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:55 am

Although it's been playing in big cities for months, David Cronenberg's latest only recently popped up within my reach.

I've always looked forward to Cronenberg's films--even after he switched from overt body-horror genre films to hard-hitting "mainstream" projects--because Cronenberg has never abandoned his vision. Films like A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and EASTERN PROMISES are every bit as transformationally-themed as something like THE FLY, and his characters still often undergo physical metamorphoses (look at the ever-increasing tattoo collection Viggo Mortensen accumulates in the aforementioned PROMISES, for example) reflecting what's happening in their minds.

So it's not hard at all to see what drew Cronenberg to A DANGEROUS METHOD: right from the very beginning, Kiera Knightley's body is rebelling against the neuroses in her mind--and while we don't get the literal rage tumors of THE BROOD, we're already safely in that film's company.

Cronenberg didn't write the film, of course--it's a combination of a stage play and documented history concerning the relationship between Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and how the case of the disturbed young woman who will eventually become Dr. Sabina Spielrein (Knightley) dictates the course of their professional and personal friendship. Essentially, Jung's highly personal interest in Sabina's case compromises him both as a doctor and as a husband and father, and his failure to accept a cold, clinical attitude causes him to lose face in the eyes of his mentor (Freud did, indeed, once think of Jung as his "son and heir").

As one might expect, the performances are razor-sharp, while Cronenberg achieves his best results yet with a leading lady (virtually all of his films have been male-dominated). Mortensen is just fine in his third Cronenberg film in a row, but I must say that it's a bit of a stretch to give him billing over Fassbender for what is clearly a supporting role--it's Fassbender and Knightley who carry the lion's share here.

In the end, this is a drama, not a thriller. As such, it carries less of a punch than Cronenberg's earlier work--this point may be debatable, but I would suggest that any story this deeply rooted in the psychosexual would require a more cathartic... climax. Cronenberg's best films leave me emotionally drained--and while A DANGEROUS METHOD offers fine performances, direction and visuals, it failed to reach me on that level, and I'm not personally likely to revisit it anytime soon.


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