December 30, 2011

MOVIES: A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)

A Dangerous Method is a somewhat aimless ramble through a few years in the lives of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a woman who begins as Jung's patient before becoming Freud's, and ultimately becoming their colleague in psychotherapy.

Fassbender and Mortensen give blandly competent performances, both speaking in the slightly formal, vaguely English-accented tones that signify "cultured European" in Hollywood movies.

Knightley, by contrast, is anything but bland, especially in the first twenty minutes of the movie, when the character is at her most disturbed. It's a festival of tics as Knightley jerks and shrieks and chokes her words out through clenched teeth, with an attempted Russian accent that veers unpredictably from nonexistent to full-on Boris Badenov. It is without a doubt the most embarassing performance of the year.

The movie can't make up its mind what story it wants to tell. At first, it looks like it's going to be the story of Jung curing Spielrein of her sexual neuroses, then it turns into a romance between the two, then it's the story of the disintegration of the Freud/Jung relationship. And none of the stories are very interesting.

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