Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Dangerous Method, dir. David Cronenberg, scr. Christopher Hampton, st. Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel

Cronenberg's most recent film may lack the visceral body-horrific flesh-melding of his earlier ventures but is nonetheless compelling for it. In this adaptation of Christopher Hampton's play The Talking Cure, what began in 2002's Spider as Cronenberg's move into a more psychological area of his unique brand of corporeal exploration, here comes full circle, a study on the founders of analytical psychology. Fassbender plays Jung, Mortensen his friend and fatherly mentor Freud, and Knightley as Sabina Spielrein, Jung's patient and lover. As with all Cronenbergian fare there's a detachment from the subject matter that sits right on the cusp of the absorbing/ambivalent interface, and I imagine many will be put off by Knightley's accent and hysterics. I might just be tempted though to stick my neck out and state that she's rather fantastic here, in the film's first half at least, struggling to calm her psycho-sexually-induced fits and seizures as she remembers the paternal punishment that has inadvertently lit up prohibited areas of her cortex. There's a fine line between melodramatic over-egging and a genuinely proficient physical performance but I'd say Knightley comes down the right side of it. Elsewhere, Mortensen's impassively broody and Fassbender continues to hone his Damaged Individual persona down to a fine art.