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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"A Dangerous Method", let's talk about sex, doctor

A Dangerous Method

It's probably me, sure. Because with the exception of "Spider", the cinema of David Cronenberg has been pretty insufferable. Sometimes morbid ("Crash"), others just (sorry) stupid ("Eastern Promises", "A History of Violence"), with "A Dangerous Method", I have to use another adjective. I found this movie interesting, with great potential, but the final result is disappointingly flat.

The premise was intriguing. An insight on psychoanalysis, from the perspective of their fathers, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, with Sabina Spielrein completing the triangle. An intellectual and emotional, sentimental conflict that gave shape to their theories but also determined their lives. On paper, this could be original and absorbing matters to deal with. Even the fact Cronenberg was directing it was intriguing, due to his personal record as the body horror or venereal horror genre master's, considering sex was supposed to be a major factor on the discussions of both psychoanalysts. But the film doesn't live to its expectations.

In my opinion, what makes the movie shallow is the lack of character development. Contrary to the usual pattern in cinema, I believe "A Dangerous Method" would need a longer length to engage the spectator, to make the film compelling or to introduce real depth on it. As it has been edited, the film starts with a a quite vibrant pace, but once the (potentially absorbing) conflicts are exposed, it becomes clearly unbalanced towards the turbulent relation between Spielrein and Jung, leaving an insufficient amount of scenes for the development of the relationship, then clash between Freud and Jung, and skimming over events that should matter for the development of the film, which is a bit frustrating (the near-the-end reading letters part it is indeed very annoying). Maybe Cronenberg wanted to explain the ideas of the two psychologists/psychoanalysts with the physical relationship between Spielrein and Jung, but if that what's the purpose, the result is a big failure.

With that structure, the film acquires an unexpected inertia, even apathy. I do think Michael Fassbender makes the film worth watching as he creates a powerful, troubled Carl Jung, while Vincent Cassel is also exciting as relevant secondary character Otto Gross. But on the other hand, Viggo Mortensen portrays a caricature of a very affected Freud. His character demanded more scenes to be developed and confronted to Jung. Finally Keira Knightley is a disturbing, controversial Spielrein. Her extreme shifts from hysteria to be the one capable of confronting such a personal drama is hard to believe, at least to me. As I said, an unbalanced, quite lifeless film.

SCORE: 5/10

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