Feb 22 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
A Dangerous Method
A DANGEROUS Method follows the intense relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) that gave birth to psychoanalysis.
Further complicating both men’s ever quickening difference of opinion is Jung’s patient Sabina (Keira Knightley) and her determination to become romantically involved with Jung.
A Dangerous Method is based on a play and it closely resembles its background on-screen; talking is the name of the game.
Conversations dominate, led by a near ever-present Fassbender, and while the strong performances of both leading men grab your attention, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is director David Cronenberg’s dullest film.
Cronenberg is best known for provocative fare and his famous knack for ‘body horror’ (The Fly, Crash) but the closest A Dangerous Method gets to classic Cronenberg is some sexual discussion, especially Sabina’s description of feeling the presence of a “slimy” mollusc against her back, and a little light spanking.
He does, though, film some gorgeous period backdrops, most including water, and detail.
Christopher Hampton’s screenplay is adapted from his own play The Talking Cure and John Kerr’s book A Most Dangerous Method.
Thankfully he doesn’t let the dialogue get too complicated and the story tells the classic tale of the disintegration of a mentor/pupil, ‘son’/father figure relationship as Jung becomes increasingly disillusioned with Freud’s views.
During Jung and Freud’s first meeting they talk for 13 hours (not literally, on-screen!) but by the end their friendship has completely broken down into a series of antagonistic, back and forth letters.
The best and worst of A Dangerous Method comes with its performances.
Fassbender continues his hot streak of strong turns and Mortensen is charismatic as the cigar smoking, confident Freud, sticking to his beliefs throughout.
Vincent Cassel (Otto) makes a wicked cameo as a cocaine-snorting ‘devil on Jung’s shoulder’, planting seeds of sexual doubt in Jung’s mind.
But, and this is a big BUT, Knightley is not far off a disaster.
For a start, she’s supposed to be Russian but sounds more Dutch and Cronenberg should’ve reined her during some of her early OTT scenes where her remarkably protruding chin and twisting body are unwelcome distractions.
She does get slightly better as she calms down late on but her display hurts the movie so much in the first half-hour that it takes a while for it to recover.
If constant chat and intellectual collisions aren’t your thing then chances are you’ll hate A Dangerous Method.
But Fassbender and Mortensen’s performances and the sumptuous period design deserve recognition.
It’s just a pity young Keira couldn’t keep that chin tucked in.
Rating - 6 out of 10.