Title: A Dangerous Method
Country: Canada, UK, Switzerland, Germany
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: David Cronenberg
Music: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Peter Suschitzky
While being thrilled to Cronenberg’s upcoming MAPS TO THE STARS, which will debut in Cannes this year in the main competition, it is an apposite time to visit his other work which escaped my watch list although COSMOPOLIS (2012) is a fiasco which quite disheartens my faith, luckily, A DANGEROUS METHOD is surprisingly robust in depicting a historical love affair between one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, Doctor Carl Yung (Fassbender) and his Russian patient Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), at the dawn of 20th Century, at the same time, the film also probes into Yung’s correspondence with Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), how their assumed mentor-and-next-in-line rapport disintegrates in the wake of their diversified convictions in the professional field.
The film dedicatedly shuns away from being a hagiography, neither for Yung nor for Freud, their highly dialectical discourse is stingingly gripping, Freud avers all neurosis is of exclusively sexual origin while Yung champions parapsychology, plus Vincent Cassel, has a small role as the more unorthodox psychoanalyst Otto Gross, who is a game-changer in Jung’s worldview when he attempts to analyse Gross. Words are not verbose anymore, in psychotherapy, it is the most or maybe only effective means to divulge what’s hidden inside the labyrinthine mind, Fassbender and Mortensen are conspicuously excellent in their two-handers, the former often blinks rapidly as if he tries to convey his ideas through an impregnable wall erected by the latter, who never loses his composure and is indomitable to any rebuttal.
This film is not at all Cronenberg-esque, it is a straightforward drama, the only remotely grotesque scenes are Keira Knightley’s distorted effort to mimic a patient under hysteria, she is gutsy and to say the least, all-out for a difficult role involves with sadomasochism, anal fixation and insanity, I’m not a naysayer in her performance, on the contrary, she barely misses my top 10 list of leading actress in 2011, the sexual tension between Sabina and Dr. Yung is unforced, although as unlikely as an ace among his peers, Dr. Yung would make such a blunder at the first place to fall for his patient, he has his secrets too, a libido-driven temptation is too hard to reject, the pleasure which Sabina offers cannot be achieved from his melancholic wife Emma (an underplayed Sarah Gadon), eventually he becomes a monogamy dissenter as Otto has advised.
A DANGEROUS METHOD inclines to be an actor’s playground rather than Cronenberg’s auteurist endeavour, stemming from my self-satisfying purpose, I hope MAPS TO THE STARS will be another vehicle for its A-list cast, in the main for my goddess Moore, who can return to the brutal Oscar battle in an age when most actress are regressing to sideline offers. Maybe Cronenberg is the right turn this time.