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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Movie Review - A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method (2011)
Starring Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, and Vincent Cassel
Directed by David Cronenberg

I'm sure there's an appeal out there for the psychological gibberish that's spouted by Karl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) in A Dangerous Method, but it's simply not my cup of tea.  I remember studying these two guys in college and writing papers about how laughable their theories were to my mind.  Still, for about half of this ninety minute flick, I was admittedly intrigued by hearing their various theories discussed and debated.  However, after a while, this very talky film just wears out its welcome and despite a good performance from Fassbender and an oftentimes riveting turn from Keira Knightley, David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method just doesn't quite have enough of a story around which to craft a film.

A Dangerous Method revolves around Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a Russian Jew who is brought to Karl Jung's mental facility acting out with strange and violent twitches.  Jung is taken by the case and finds himself using many of his colleague Freud's sexually charged theories to diagnose Sabina.  As time passes, Jung finds himself falling for Sabina despite his best efforts to keep his focus on his marriage, and he soon finds that his growing obsession with Sabina could ultimately create a divide not only with his wife, but with his esteemed colleague Freud as well.

The film starts out simply astonishingly with Keira Knightley giving the best performance of her career in the opening scenes.  Manic, crazed, and given the perfect opportunity to jut out her jaw (which, if you've seen any of her films, she's very prone to do), I found myself unable to take my eyes off of Knightley.  She has captured what I can only assume to be an incredibly accurate depiction of a psychologically damaged young woman.  Unfortunately for Knightley, once her character begins to turn towards the sane side, she becomes a bit tedious and boring to watch.  While the progression of her character is believable, the commitment and tour de force performance of Knightley in the first half of the film becomes rather bland in the second half.

And it's in that second half that things start to unravel.  I give credit to director David Cronenberg for his use of deep focus -- allowing all things near and far to both be in focus in a particular scene -- which adds an interesting visual tableau to the mundanely verbose proceedings throughout much of the film, but the lovely sights aren't enough to save the disappointing conclusion to the flick.  As Sabina gets mentally better, the film shifts a bit more of its focus onto the relationship between Jung and Freud and, quite bluntly, it couldn't keep my interest.  Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen are fine as the two doctors (with Fassbender coming off a bit better probably only because his character is given an actual arc as opposed to Mortensen who seems to simply be playing a figurehead with little else to do other than spout Freud's famous dictums), but neither of the actors (or perhaps their characters) are charismatic enough to carry the second half of the movie.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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