A Dangerous Method
Brilliant film - Colm2305
Up until now David Cronenberg has never made a film that I have completely loved yet all his films have in their own way fascinated me and stayed in my mind longer than films that I seem to have enjoyed more. The last few years have seen Cronenberg depart from his usual style and embark on slightly more mainstream films while still keeping his unique spin on things evident albeit more hidden. Hopefully this trend continues as A Dangerous Method is the first Cronenberg film that I can say I absolutely loved and has left me eagerly anticipating the directors next film.
Set in Austria on the eve of World War I, man of the moment Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, a doctor interested in experimenting with 'the talking cure' for his seemingly mad patients. Father figure of his studies Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) is a great admirer of Jungs advancements in this new technique and the two meet regularly to discuss their findings on the human mind. Laying down the foundations of what we now know as modern day psychology the two men strike up a friendship but soon they clash over the direction in which their findings should go, leading to a battle of egos. One of Jungs patients Sabina Spielrein is testament to this new cure and her own studies into the field could help bridge the gap between the two doctors beliefs, but her relationship with Jung only adds extra stress and complication to the situation.
Fassbender can do no wrong and A Dangerous Method, in which he appears in all but two scenes, cements him as a leading man. He carries the film confidently and delivers some memorable lines. His conversations with Mortensesns' Freud in which the two discuss personal aspects of life in such a clinically honest and detached way is an example of this great actor at his best. Mortensen is in excellent form too both bounce off each other well. It's hard to see Keira Knightley act and believe it's no one other than Knightley but here she does a good job having to stretch her range to that of a woman who can barely keep he jaw attached to her head she is so insane.
Adapted from a play action is at a minimum in this film. Expect a lot of sitting down conversations, much akin to psychology itself. The dialogue is always clever and well-paced and there's never a dull moment with plenty of humour throughout. A brief appearance by Vincent Cassel as Otto Gross, a doctor who despises the human races acceptance of monogamy, is a standout sequence and a clever way of injecting humour whilst also being integral to the story. The only faults with the film seem to come from being too faithful to the play. The limitations of a stage play often come across on screen with the range of characters being very limited with almost no minor roles. This works well in creating a claustrophobic environment which no doubt these people lived in but it sometimes makes us view the world they occupy as somewhat limited. We never see Jung or Freud with any patients other than Sabina Spielrein, giving us very little else to compare their findings on the human mind to. Later in the film when Sabina announces that she now has her own patients it is hard to imagine her at work analysing a patient. A few brief scenes showing the above might have opened our window into their world a bit more. These are minor quibbles though in what is otherwise a fantastic film.
Ignore the fact this is being largely ignored by critics and award ceremonys alike, this a damn fine film and well worth a trip to the cinema. Go see it now. I'm giving it four but something tells me that on a second viewing this will jump to a five.
Review published on the 20 February 2012 13:00
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