David Cronenberg’s newest leaves a fan dissapointed. A Dangerous Method unfortunately does not trail in Cronenberg’s recent impeccable tradition, and seems, not unlike Freud’s theories, overtly fixated on sex.
A depiction of the early emergence of the psychoanalysist tradition, A Dangerous Method tells the story of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his relationship to his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and patient (later on lover) Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Despite some great acting on behalf of Mortensen and Fassbender, Cronenberg’s latest is a miss, and here’s why :
1. Keira Knightley doesn’t do a good job in this film. Her character dominates every scene, in the wrong way. I found it hard to concentrate on what was actually happening in the scene whilst watching her over-acting quivering and uneasy anxiousness.
2. The story doesn’t dvelve into the potential of the situations between Freud and Jung. There’s no conflict between the two, there’s no antagonist. The introduction of Vincent Cassel’s Otto Gross comes too late and doesn’t make a dutiful impact.
3. The slow pace and leveled intensity might have worked with Eastern Promises where the topic matter itself was already highly intriguing and tension-filled, but here some of the dialogue centered scenes drag on and the occasional face of Keira Knightley doesn’t help the case at all.
4. The story lacks surprise, twists and captivation. I’m not saying that all films need to hold these qualities, but if that entertainment factor isn’t there, subtlety, characters and dialogue need to shine to a whole new level. Unfortunately the characters here remain unilateral and the dialogue stale.
For a fan of Cronenberg’s, Fassbender’s and Mortensen’s the film remains a disappointment, but still in a slow year of character driven drama it’s still a solid work that has some highlights, especially when it comes to the performances of the two main leads.
Mortensen’s portrayal of Freud seems so realistic that most of the time I forgot I’m actually watching an actor give a performance, and not a real, historical person.
There’s no denying that Mortensen is one of the most dedicated actors working at the moment. He discusses his role and other aspects of the film on Total Film’s website :
I like the fact there was so much available, not just in his writing but in the writing of contemporaries, and particular descriptions of him – what his voice sounded like, how he spoke, how he was generous with his ideas, his sense of humour was very wry. He was a very witty kind of person.
If confronted he could be very cutting and somewhat arrogant, but so could Jung be – they were very proud, and in some way insecure, which makes for interesting drama. All of a sudden these are people like us, they’re not just these great historical personages, these scientists, these thinkers. It made them more human, more like you and me.
They could make jokes, they could be competitive, they could be ambitious, they could be jealous – they could be very affectionate in their way as well. All those things made it a lot more interesting to play.
A Dangerous Method won’t be joining the ranks of David Cronenberg’s best achievements, or any other top lists for that matter. Let’s hope that his next piece, an adaptation of the marvellous Don DeLillo’s work, Cosmopolis brings him out of this one movie slump.
You Will Like A Dangerous Method if…
- you’re a fan of Keira Knightley’s obsessive pout.
- you’re extremely interested in psychoanalysis’ first steps.
6 / 10
Opens in the UK tomorrow, the 10th of February.