Skip to main content

Review: Brave Ideas (A Dangerous Method)

With any innovative idea there are vultures surrounding them, these vultures are both advocates and detractors just waiting to pick apart. Success has many fathers, but failure has just one. The "talking cure" that Dr. Freud (Viggo Mortensen) has implemented could either bring psychoanalysis to the mainstream or destroy the reputations of all doctors willing to treat their patients with it.

Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, in yet another solid performance) likes to fancy himself a practitioner of the talking cure, but a new patient in the form of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) could reveal him to be a student.

Sabina's psychosis is not a common one: she is excited by humiliation. Underneath all of this dilapidating fear, Jung sees a kindred spirit, a woman with insights of her own. He can find a way to cure her of this "disease", but in doing so he must tread lightly. His resolve is being corrupted by Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), a man who represses nothing. Sabina has a proposal and Jung may halt the psychoanalytic movement before it even begins.

With Jung's sessions, Sabina blossoms into a analytical mind of her own, and as a lover for Jung. This presents complications when Jung finally meets Freud.

Despite Freud's gossamer-like touch regarding sexuality, he would better serve other interests if he shifted his focus elsewhere, Jung concludes. The cigar-chomping doctor seemingly does not care enough about a patient's problems enough to obtain any actualized solutions. Jung finds this unacceptable. Sexuality does not define any one person's actions consistently, he refuses to believe it. The growing feud between these therapists develops into a life-long one.

David Cronenberg's film relies on its actors to keep the audiences' attention onscreen as A Dangerous Method does not lend itself to cinematography. A majority of the film takes place behind a desk, in armchairs, and at the dinner table. Fortunately, Knightley, Fassbender and Mortensen all give it their all.

Mortensen takes the cigar and ability to throw battery acid onto a fresh-paint veneer like only Freud could. Watching the veteran pick apart the confidence of his peers must be what got Viggo the part. Michael Fassbender—so shortly after Shame—comes to prim and proper so naturally that even the hairs on his mustache stand at attention. Watching him loosen his morality as if it were a tie is a vicarious thrill. His scenes with Knightley revel in all of the kink that fans said that Cronenberg no longer had in him.

What we indulge in may bring us to the brink and A Dangerous Method proposes that in order to live, we may have to give it all up.


Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…