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A Dangerous Method

Submitted by MBergeron on December 22, 2011 – 8:36 pmNo Comment

A Dangerous Method is a Freudian slip of a movie. People expecting David Cronenberg to return to his roots of rage are confronted with an in-depth psychological psychodrama. Instead of delving into the realm of horror and how it infects the human body (Shivers, Videodrome) Cronenberg now probes the recesses of the mind.

Based on his play The Talking Cure the adaptation by Christopher Hampton also uses John Herr’s A Dangerous Method, a book that describes the relation between a woman suffering from psychotic hysteria, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), and her subsequent cure after undergoing therapy at the hands of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) using the methodology of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).

Knightley pulls out the stops especially in the early parts of the film where her trauma manifests itself with weird facial contortions. It’s like an acting lesson using the psychological gesture method Michael Chekhov writes about in To The Actor. Both Fassbender and Mortensen project calm yet stern authority.

While A Dangerous Method charts the relation between Jung and Freud the main storyline involves an affair between the married Jung and the now cured of her neurosis and completing medical school Spielrein. Cronenberg gives us a cold look at this triumvirate but the gaze isn’t distance or detached. Naturally daddy Cronenberg has a specific take on the affair that involves Spielrein’s childhood memories of spanking and kinky sex.

A Dangerous Method occupies the opposite corner to all the family friendly and action spectacle films now open. It’s an art film and a deeply intellectualized version of events that probably went similarly if not different. At the core of ADM is the way Cronenberg keeps the melodrama at bay, while still exploring the tantalizing aspect of the affair. One thing is certain: Fassbender has more sex in two films (this one and Shame) than everyone else in all the films that’ve come out this year.

A Dangerous Method unwinds exclusively at the downtown Sundance Cinemas Houston.

- Michael Bergeron

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