Human mental development is under the burning lights in David Cronenberg’s latest effort about the birth of psychoanalysis. Cronenberg teams up with Viggo Mortensen for a third time in A Dangerous Method, a film about the complex relationship between Carl Jung and his mentor, Sigmund Freud.
The costume and sets are all wonderfully done, and the camera pulls back to let the actors shine in their performances. Cronenberg uses silence and tranquil images to clash with the sexually-charged, controversial topics at hand. Tension is built through subtlety and through the delivery of the dialogue. The script itself has moments of sparking intelligence, as the characters discuss the drive of the mind through sexual nature.
Michael Fassbender, playing Carl Jung, is fantastic, as we see his analytical, intelligent side, but we also get glances of his weakness. He is a family man that forms an intimate relationship with his troubled patient, Sabina Spielrein, played by Keira Knightley. Viggo Mortensen, playing Sigmund Freud, is a cigar-chomping, mostly rational-minded father figure of psychoanalysis. Mortensen truly digs into the role, from accent to every tick and tock of his mannerisms, as he worries about what the great minds will think about his bold thoughts. Between Jung and Freud, there is a silent tension, as they verbally duel with each other to ultimately form the grounds of psychoanalysis. Vincent Cassel also chimes in with a notable, but brief performance, as the free-spirited, yet damaged Otto Gross who influences Jung to satisfy his urges.
A Dangerous Mind offers many things to admire, especially in the moments where the theories intrigue the mind, pulling the audience into thinking about the development of the mind. Do we destroy ourselves as individuals through love and sex? Is there a way to become what we actually want to be or are we stuck being who we are? At it’s best, the film brings up these critical questions.
Keira Knightley is cartoonishly the weak link, and although she shows moments of promise, most of her performance is overacted and many will probably find her accent unbearable.
The film relies heavily on dialogue, and you could probably turn away from the screen and just listen to the dialogue without missing a beat of the film; in other words, it tells more than shows. Many will be disappointed about how the film doesn’t go as far as it should, as if Cronenberg was tied down a bit.
Another potential complaint about the film is that not enough happens. We see the characters talk most of the time, analyzing the mind, but nothing truly significant happens in the short run-time.
Viewers may also believe that there should have been more character development, as there wasn’t enough to invest in the characters, as we’re only given little fragments through dialogue. Overall, the film could have been so much better than mediocre.
The Squid and the Whale
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