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A Dangerous Method

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Released: 2011
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley,  Viggo Mortensen.

 

Certificate: 15

 

Reviewed By: Luke Cowdell
The reason I decided to watch this film was down to the fact that Fassbender at the moment is the hot shit. He’s one of the most hyped actors around. The film also has Keira Knightley in it, which is another plus. Okay so again I’ll be honest whilst writing this review, my only prior knowledge surrounding this film was the fact that apparently Miss Knightley gets served a severe spanking. So with that in mind I thought it would be rude not to at least give the film a whirl.
The film centres on Dr. Carl Jung (Fassbender) his relationship with his patient Sabina Spielrein (Knightley) whilst intermittently corresponding with his own mentor Dr Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Jung focuses his own research around the writings of Freud who believes a lot of mental/physiological problems can be related back to a time within an individual’s childhood. Jung begins to explore this theory with hysterical patient Spielrein. Jung reports back to Freud intermittently with his findings.
Aesthetically this film is beautiful to look at. The costumes and locations are spot on, it seems obvious that lots of time money and effort was invested into making this film look perfect. The period costume rivals anything that I have personally seen before. Anyway, let’s look at the acting first. Fassbender’s portrayal of Jung is mesmerising, his voice cuts like a hot knife through butter, it’s so smooth and endearing along with his character that even when he begins to stray we can’t help but empathise with his character.

 

The next most important character is Spielrein played by Knightley, from the first moment we see her we are informed as an audience that there is something not quite right with her. How? Well, be it her physical ticks, her nervous disposition, her cracked broken Russian/English accent, or even her dishevelled appearance we are led to believe that she will be playing a counter typical role compared to characters from Pride and Prejudice etc… All that being said, my admiration for her as an actor has vastly improved. She is an actor who could easily be typecast into similar roles again and again. Here in this film she seems to have to bear her soul, her pretty girl innocence is broken down, it’s replaced by an abject portrayal of the effects of mental illness.
Jung begins to ‘treat’ Spielrein by talking to her, a method that Freud believed would help with the physiological healing process, and to an extent this worked. Although with this technique being in its infancy and Jung’s valiant efforts to keep things professional he seemed to step over the mark. Spielrein found solace in Jung’s efforts, finally someone was showing her some attention, listening to her and trying to understand her problems. This affection became too much on Spielrein’s part and she began making advances towards Jung. Jung himself was not in the most happy of relationships, his marriage with his wife seemed more a union of convenience rather than anything representing true love.
I do not want to ruin the entire narrative but I can say personally I found the film captivating. It’s not just all about the sex, the scandal and seeing Keira Knightley topless (although that’s a bonus) the story is truly captivating. Yes it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not one of those films that you can simply watch whilst stuffing your face full of popcorn and surfing your Blackberry. You do have to invest a little concentration into the film. Know that what you are watching is a portrayal of the rise of modern day psychology and try to appreciate the drama that you see unfold. The film has no explosions or any fancy special effects. What the film does have is some pretty amazing performances by actors out of their ‘comfort zones’ and some superb visuals to boot.

 

Yes I have read mixed reviews before I watched this film, but I can honestly say for me it did a pretty good job of portraying a story which could easily end up being either dead boring or full of porn. Good effort Cronenberg kudos to you man.

 

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