David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method is a visual joy that charts the birth of Psychoanalysis in the early part of the 20th Century. Michael Fassbender stars as Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. In between these great historical figures is Keira Knightley who plays Sabina Spielrein, a young Russian woman who is sent to Jung for analysis as she is suffering from hysteria.
Cronenberg is known for intertwining the physchological with the physical and in a way that is the shortest description of this film that one could conger up. The relationship between the psychology and the principle characters personal and physical relationships are wonderfully played out here. Cronenberg’s use of focus is masterful. He is able to create a better 3D effect that I have seen in even the best 3D films. Quite often, and especially when two people share a scene, the focus is set on the actor in the distance with the actor closest to the camera out of focus. Occasionally, this setup is reversed. The rest of the frame is in very soft focus and this can also include the actor’s clothes. The audience’s eyes are drawn to the actor’s faces in an exceptionally clever and visually pleasing way. The background is always beautiful but Cronenberg wants the audience to know that it is what is being said is the focus, not where they are saying it.
|An example of the soft focus used by Cronenberg|
The story itself is fascinating and rekindled my interest in psychology which first developed during my A Levels. I felt as though I could listen to Freud and Jung talk for hours or even days. I understand that the subject matter is not for everyone however and this is perhaps why we had to travel to our local Art House Cinema rather than our usual multiplex. In addition to the absorbing psychological debate the audience are also treated to a magnificent personal story which revolves around Jung and Spielrein. It has anticipation, romance and heart and is full of twists and turns.
|Many scenes are shot with unusal acting positions|
All three principle actors are fantastic. Keira Knightley delivers a wonderfully outrageous and over the top performance as the confused and frenzied Spielrein. She is as accomplished as I have ever seen her. It was a pleasant surprise to see her push her physical acting abilities in ways which I had not seen in the past. Fassbender gives a somewhat subdued performance but he too is more than competent. Mortensen’s Freud is understated but occasionally vicious and calculating. His voice is both relaxing and seductive, a cross between John Hurt and The Cheshire Cat from
in Wonderland. Mortensen and Fassbender are at their best when sparring opposite one another. The three leads are joined by an able supporting cast which includes an all too brief cameo from Vincent Cassel who is excellent here as the sex addicted Otto Gross. Alice
I am unable to think of a single facet of this film which I didn’t enjoy or thought could have been improved in some way and am utterly delighted that I took the time to see it. It has been one of the highlights of an already stellar couple of months at the cinema.