March 24, 2012

Filthy Review - A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

As I developed my love of horror films as a teen back in the 80s’ I discovered the joys of director David Cronenberg’s movies. Movies such as Scanners, Rabid and Shivers, amongst others were consumed and enjoyed, and all were very much horror movies that examined either the human body or mind. As the years have gone by his movies might be slightly less visceral, but the themes of the movies have generally stayed the same. With A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg once again visits the inner workings of the mind and, to a certain degree, the body.

The film itself focuses on Carl Jung and his relationships with both Sigmund Freud and a woman named Sabina Spielrein. Sabina is a patient of Jung’s with whom he develops a close personal relationship with, which of course is strictly taboo. With regards to his relationship with Freud, the film shows how his respect for Freud develops into a working admiration for each other, their friendship and subsequent falling out due to differences in opinions on personal and professional matters. The entire story though shows how between the two of them, and inadvertently the relationship with Sabina, shaped modern psychoanalysis.

This might sound like heavy viewing to some, but it isn’t really. It is a very wordy movie, with the focus being very firmly on the dialogue and the interaction between the three principles, although at around 95 minutes when the credits roll it still seemed to have plenty of scope to develop the story more. In fact I was quite surprised the movie ended when it did.

Cronenberg directs the movie with a wonderful restraint, allowing each scene to unfold at its own pace with nothing ever seeming to be hurried or forced. This gives us a chance to enjoy the performances of all involved. Cronenberg regular Viggo Mortensen is terrific as the rigid Freud, and Michael Fassbender, as Jung, gives another solid performance to add to his resume. The ever dependable Vincent Cassel turns up briefly as Otto Gross and, whilst his screen time is limited, gives a great display in a pivotal role. The biggest surprise for me though was probably Keira Knightley’s. Whereas I expect good, if not great, performances from the three actors I mentioned, I found that you never know what you are going to get from Knightly. The last film I saw her in was London Boulevard, and she was probably the weakest part of that movie. Here though she real seemed to dive into her role as patient and lover, even if her Russian accent seemed a little forced.

A Dangerous Method is also a quite beautiful picture to look at as well, the pre-World War 1 European settings are gorgeous, and the attention to detail is wonderful.

How historically correct the movie is I do not know, what I do know though is that Cronenberg has taken what could have easily been a very uncinematic story and breathed life into it, with the story never dragging. The characters are engaging, the subject matter fascinating and the execution just left me wanting more. I still think that Scanners is my favorite Cronenberg movie, but as long as he keeps making movies of this quality I will keep watching them
A Dangerous Method comes with a hearty recommendation from me, and is well worth your time if you enjoy engaging your mind whilst watching a film.

A Dangerous Method is released on March 27 on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Classics and is available to watch online at

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