Dir: David Cronenberg
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley & Vincent Cassel
I’ve always found the relationship that successful directors often form with their leading actor slightly perplexing. We’ve seen Scorcese persist with Di Caprio and Scott with Crowe. The crazy genius that is David Cronenberg seems to have taken a shine to Viggo Moretensen and whilst he’s probably only gets equal billing with Fassbender on this one, it is the latter who steals the show.
Carl Jung (Fassbender) is a devotee of Seigmund Freud (Mortensen), but the dynamics of their relationship begin to change when Jung decides to try Freud’s methods on a new patient, Spielrein (Knightley). As the relationship between Jung and Spielrein begins to develop, relations between the two men start to falter. Jung begins to grow in stature, but at what cost to his professional life and marriage?
A Dangerous Method is a stimulating piece of film-making, combining high concept with solid acting. As with every film he’s been in, Fassbender steals every scene; an impressive feat considering the company he’s in. His performance is understated, assured and refined, bringing a certain gravitas to scenes which otherwise could border on farce. Mortensen is solid and charismatic, encapsulating the essence of a mentor/father figure. Cassel also delivers an impressive cameo as Otto Gross.
Cronenberg’s choice of accents in A Dangerous Method is truly baffling,and whilst Knightley is clearly not helped by having to put on a Russian accent, her performance at times reeks of “drama school”. To her credit, she manages to eventually pitch it just on the right side of serious, after an almost incredulous start. I’m not one to laugh easily, but her impersonation of a gibbering gibbon in the early scenes with Fassbender almost had me in uncontrollable hysterics. Thankfully, I managed to restrain myself, and she managed to just about pull her performance round, but it was a close call and Andy Serkis might need to look for a new line of work.
Having said that, and whilst A Dangerous Method is probably the weakest of his Mortensen trilogy, it is a very enjoyable film which is beautifully shot, for the most part well-acted, and impressively constructed. Where it really shines are the scenes between Jung and Freud; the dialogue is fluent and impressive, the sense of intellectual power palpable. A Dangerous Mind is well worth a watch, but maybe not one you will come back to again.