Hi, Burl here to review a movie about the early days of psychoanalysis! It’s a funny subject for a director like David "Fast Company" Cronenberg to tackle, but then again maybe not, for it seems these days that Cronenberg is willing to tackle just about anything! He always sort of has, I think, and that’s one of the reasons I rate him so highly as a director!
A Dangerous Method has two main, frequently intersecting stories: the building and subsequent dissolution of the personal and professional friendship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud; and the love affair between Jung and his spitfire patient, Sabina Spielrein! Ha ha, she enjoys nothing more than a sound spanking, and for this reason, in early 20th Century Switzerland, she is considered quite loony!
Jung, as played by the robot from Prometheus, Michael Fassbinder, is a chilly character indeed, perfectly suited to a David Cronenberg picture! Freud is played by Cronen-stalwart Viggo Mortensen, and I have to say I really liked his performance! All the acting was quite good, but old Viggo stood out, with the possible exception of his third-act pratfall! Ha ha, whoa, whoa, boom! And Kiera Knightly indulges in an awful lot of gurning as Spielrein, which may or may not be an accurate portrayal of mental annoyance, but sometimes threatens to jump the cliff into silly!
Ha ha, at times the movie seems a bit like a dumbed-down pop history lecture, and Cronenberg’s typically unflashy style doesn’t meld well with that! But in spite of this clash, or maybe because of it, the movie whips up a mighty strange atmosphere all its own, and any movie that can manage that gets a light shoulder punch from old Burl!
That’s something Cronenberg very often manages to do in his pictures, and another reason I’m such a big fan of his! Another nice thing about the picture is the shift in partisanship the viewer might experience! Entirely notwithstanding your loyalty to their respective psycho-philosophies, at the beginning of the picture Jung seems a reasonable chap, earnest and well-intentioned, and Freud something of a stodgy and self-congratulatory fuddy-duddy! By the end Jung is a crackpot and a jerk, and Freud a gentle, avuncular smoker of cigars! Ha ha, and by the time the curtain comes down, Sabina Spielrein, especially given the tragic end to her life, which is revealed to us by postscript titles, is entirely sympathetic, even if at the beginning of the picture she reminds you of an old girlfriend you’re well rid of! Ha ha!
It’s a bit of a Masterpiece Theatre slog here and there, but this is undercut by all sorts of sly Cronenbergianisms, more and more as the picture progresses, until it comes to seem quite subversive! It’s also decidedly uncommercial, another point in it’s favour! I give this potato three vicious cuts to the face!